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Coming Home

 

A story about Kes and her return to Voyager in a possible future

 

 

 

 

J.R.Olson 1998. 

The story was slightly altered in 2001 to adjust to the events in the episode "Fury"

This story can be downloaded and read by Kes fans and fans of Star Trek Voyager. But further spreading and selling of this material is prohibited without the permission of the author and the owner of this website.

Star Trek Voyager and it's characters are registered trademarks of Paramount Pictures.

 

 

 

 

Chapter 1

Eko looked at the house. It was in need of repair, he thought. But he doubted that he would have time for any rebuilding this year. If both my sons had been here, then maybe we could have had time for it. But his older son was in the space forces, fighting against a cruel and powerful enemy. And the younger son would probably be leaving soon for some other service in the defense forces. That left only him and his wife and there was already too much work with the farm. It had to wait, he thought.

He looked at the horizon. Behind the hills were the capital city Vetun, where their government prepared the defense against the enemy. I don’t envy them, he thought about the people in the government. They are probably very worried. Nobody said anything about it but everybody knew that the enemy had many more spaceships and many more soldiers than they had. It would be just a matter of time before the Praetors armada would come. And what would happen then. They will probably kill us all, he thought, and not even our powerful friends from far away can protect us then. They were also too few to stop the Praetors armada.

Then he thought of the strange conversation yesterday. He had visited an old woman in the village, a relative on his mother’s side. The woman was a bit strange and there were many who avoided her but she was said to have some special gifts. “She can look into the future”, a friend had said. But he didn’t’ believe that. Nobody can look into the future, and who wants to? he wondered. The future looks too dark now, he thought.

He had helped the old woman with some repairs and they had talked about almost nothing, about the life in the village and the hard times they were going through. Suddenly the old woman had said: ”I have had such a strange dream. I saw an angel coming from the sky. A tall angel with golden hair. She is a forerunner of better times. She will give our friends more strength and the enemy will be no more. And peace shall return to our world.” Then the woman had started to talk about the daily trivia as if nothing had happened.

Later the evening he mentioned the woman’s words to his wife and his younger son. ”You don’t believe that, do you,” his son had said, almost laughing. ”She’s crazy, she is making up all those stories and then she tell them so many times that she finally believes them herself. She just wants that people shall notice her. It’s ridiculous!” Eko’s wife had interrupted: ”But I’ve heard that she had told people about our friends from far away who is helping us against the Taras. And she did that before they arrived to our world.” ”Rubbish,” their son answered, ”she must have heard from someone that they have come to help us and then she constructed this story. And by the way, what we need now is not angels but weapons and spaceships, more spaceships like the one our Lynx friends have. Then we would be able to defeat the Taras.” Eko listened to his sun but he wasn’t fully convinced. I’m not superstitious but there is more in this life that we really understand, he thought.

He looked at the house and saw his younger son coming out with  some sort of instrument in his hand. Then he saw that the boy was looking at something behind him. ”What the-” he heard his son say, as he stared with surprise to the sky. Eko turned around and saw a small spacecraft approaching. It didn’t look like any spaceships or transport vehicles he had seen before. ”It’s not one of our ships!” his son cried out. ”it must be a Tara ship!” But how did it succeed to pass through their defense system? That must be impossible, Eko thought. ”It don’t look like any of the Tara ships I know about,” he said. His son was now standing besides him. ”It can be a missile,” his son said. But the clumsy vessel didn’t look like a missile. It looked more like some escape pod. It swayed to and fro like if the pilot didn’t have full control of it. Then it made a clumsy attempt to glide-fly and landed on the field with a  bump. ”Damn it, my crop!” cried Eko when he saw the vessel skid over the field in a cloud of dust and mud. Then it suddenly crashed into a tree and stopped. ” Come on!” his son shouted and they both started to run against the stranded vessel. Eko could see that some other people from the neighbor farm also was running towards the vessel and to his relief he also discovered a military vehicle approach. We can always trust our defense forces, he thought.

”Be careful, it can be a booby trap,” the officer said when they arrived to the stranded vessel. They took cover while the officer and three of the soldiers examined the stranded space shuttle. They opened a door and went in. Then one of the soldiers came out. ”Get a stretcher,” he shouted to another soldier, we have a wounded person in there. ”Is it a Tara?” one of Eko’s neighbors asked and pulled up a sharp weapon. ”Then his life will end here and now.” ”No,” said the soldier. ”It’s some kind of woman, I think. She’s no Tara. She looks like our Lynx friends. She can be one of them. We must help her!” The soldier fetched a stretcher and then went back inside and after a while they came out of the vessel, carrying a person on the stretcher. Eko could see that the stretcher was much too small for the person on it. When the soldiers passed him he suddenly caught a glimpse of the persons face. It was a young girl. Her face was almost white, not pale blue like theirs. She had short golden hair and her ears looked different in some way. Then suddenly Eko felt a shiver through his body, as he looked at the young, unconscious girl on the stretcher. The angel, he thought. The angel has arrived!

 

Chapter 2

”Good morning!” said Janeway when she entered the bridge on the starship Voyager. Well, if you could talk about mornings when you were on a spaceship and all you can see is the same black space day after day, month after month. But according to the ship’s clock it was morning and then you could obviously say ”Good morning” to your colleagues.

”Good morning Captain!” said Tom Paris with a happy smile. He seemed to be in a good mood, probably after winning the last evenings pool game at the holodeck. She looked around at the others who also seemed to be in a good mood this morning. That’s good, Janeway thought. A happy crew is a good crew. She had always tried to keep up the spirits of the crew during this mission. It hadn’t always been so easy, according to the circumstances. They were stranded on the other side of the galaxy, about 70 000 light-years from home. Since they were transported to the Delta Quadrant by the being called the Caretaker, they had had a long difficult journey. They had encountered a lot of alien races, Ocampa, Kazon, Trabe, Borg, most of them hostile. And it still was a long way home. I wonder if we ever make it, Janeway thought. Sometimes she had her doubts. But she had to keep an optimistic attitude in front of the crew. That was the difficult situation in being a Captain of a Starship. You must always keep your cool and never show too much emotion in front of the crew. That is always the difficult part, Janeway thought.

She sat down in the Captain’s chair and studied the huge screen in front of her but her mind was somewhere far away. The thought of the Caretaker and the Ocampa had brought back memories of Kes. The angelic Ocampa Kes had been a member of the crew since they rescued her from the Kazons. She had been the Doctor’s assistant and she had been loved and respected by everybody on the ship. But she had left the ship when her mental powers became a threat to the ship and a strange transformation of her had begun. It was supposed that she had turned into some non-corporal, energy life form. Later she had returned to the ship in anger to destroy it but Janeway wasn’t totally convinced that it was the real Kes they had encountered that time.  I wonder what happened to her, Janeway thought. Is she still alive? It was a long time ago but Kes was still missed by many on the ship. Nothing had ever been the same since she was forced to leave She looked at the new crewmember Seven Of Nine who had just entered the bridge. She was a deflected Borg and she had joined the crew about the same time as Kes had been forced to leave. Well, by some strange coincident we got her instead, thought Janeway, and she had been a reinforce to this crew. But I wish that Kes could have stayed. I really miss her, thought Janeway, I think we all do.

There were also other things to worry about. According to Neelix, their cook, the food supplies were running short. They would make it for some more weeks but then the situation would be critical. This was always a problem, Janeway thought. She knew that Neelix was doing his best with what they had got but sometimes they had to find other worlds, inhabited or not where they either could collect food or buy it from the inhabitants. Of course they also had the hydroponics bay where they could grow some of their own food but there wasn’t just enough of it. The hydroponics bay was another problem. After Kes had left there was nobody who could care about it as much as Kes had done, which meant that the harvests had gone down ever since. There are always problems, Janeway thought. Too many problems and I have to handle everything and just hope that it will work out fine in the end. Sometimes she felt that this burden of being Captain of this lost ship was just too much for her.

Harry Kim, the young Operations Officer, interrupted her thoughts. ”I’m picking up signs from alien vessels in front of us.” ”They seem to be heavy armed and they are of a type that I haven’t seen before.”

”Mr. Neelix,” said Janeway after tapping her commbadge. ”Can you please come up here? We need you to identify some ships.” ”Well, Captain,” she heard Neelix’s answer. ”I’m a little busy right now. Can’t it wait?” ”No, I’m sorry Neelix but I need you here immediately!” ”Then I’ll be there immediately,” she heard Neelix’s answer.

Two minutes later, their Talaxian cook and Morale Officer, as he called himself entered the bridge. Neelix had also joined the crew when they encountered the Caretaker. He was an odd figure, sometimes a bit too talkative and outright. But he was a survivor. He was of great importance when it comes to dealing with alien races and finding food on other planets. And in his special way he could keep their spirits up with his jokes and remarks. ”You needed my assistance, Captain,” Neelix said in his typical, a bit affected way when he tried to be as much Starfleet officer as possible. ”Mr. Neelix,” said Janeway. ”Can you identify these ships?” They had magnified the picture on the screen and could now clearly see the alien ships. They were five of them. Slim, airplane-like vessels with markings that looked like a portrait of some person. ”Well maybe, I’m not sure but I think they can be-” ”No, to be honest, I’ve never seen these kinds of ships before,” said Neelix. ”It reminds me when I was on a dangerous mission to-” ”That’s alright, Mr. Neelix,” said Janeway. ”We will soon find out what and who they are.”

”I have scanned the ships,”said Tuvok, the ships Security Officer. ”They are heavy armed and they have arms and shields comparable to ours. But they are very slow, according to our standards. I suppose they can only come up to Warp 3. In other words, there’s no problem for us to run away from them if we have to.” ”Thank you, Mr. Tuvok,” Janeway said. She was happy to have the Vulcan on board the ship. He was a good officer and his calm and effectivity was always a reliable force in troubled situations. ”What do you think, Mr. Chakotay,” Janeway said and turned to her First Officer. Chakotay, who was a Native American, had earlier been a member of the Maquis resistance against the Cardassians. But when the entity called the Caretaker had abducted both Voyager and Chakotay’s Maquis ship and transported them from the badlands in the Alpha Quadrant to the Delta Quadrant, the both crews had been forced to cooperate. Since then Chakotay and the other former Maquis had proved themselves to be effective and loyal Starfleet personal during all the adventures that Voyager had had during the long journey home.

”They haven’t shown any hostile moves yet despite the fact that their shields are up,” said Chakotay. ”I suggest that we contact them and see who they are and what they want.” ”OK, said Janeway”. ”Hail them!”

 

Chapter 3

First she didn’t understand where she was or what had happened. Then she realized that she still were the same person as before. She had been sure that the transformation had began, the transformation which would turn her into a noncorporal being but the only thing that had happened was that she had been transported from the shuttle to some very strange place. It was a gigantic room, filled with all kinds of beautiful flowers. It looked a bit like the hydroponics bay on Voyager but it was much larger and the flowers were even more beautiful than the ones she had grown on Voyager. If I’m dead, this must be Paradise, she thought.

”I’m delighted that you like my arrangements”, said suddenly a voice behind her. She turned around and saw a man in a red and black Starfleet uniform. ”I’ve created this flower garden especially for you, my dear. I knew that you would like it.” She looked at the smiling, dark-haired man and remembered that she had seen him on Voyager on some occasions when some really weird things had happened. She also remembered that he was said to be some mischievous being who occasionally visited and terrorized the Federation and its starships but she couldn’t remember what they called him. Was it ”M” or ”C”? No, Q was it!

”You are Q,” she said. The man smiled. ”Oh my dear, I’m so delighted when I hear that you remember me. Unfortunately we haven’t had much time to speak to each other before but that will be changed from now, I hope.” ”Why had you brought me here,” she asked. ”My dear Kes,” Q said. ”I have followed and studied Voyager for a long time and indeed began to feel some sort of…” he made a short pause ”…liking and admiration for the crew. I must admit that this charming Captain Janeway is a lot more cooperative and nice to deal with than the stiff and boring Captain Picard and the rest of the Enterprise gang. Ouch! And not to mention that Sisko on Deep Space Nine. What a boring jerk! But Voyager-” ”And you, my dear. Your job in sickbay, I mean all the care for all the patients and working day after day with that boring holographic doctor. Admirable!  I wouldn’t stand a minute with that-, that program. To be honest, I never thought that I should encounter such a humble and kind being, at least not among these narrow-minded humans on board a Starship vessel. And that’s why I decided to interfere. I don’t like the idea of you turning into some….ghost when they are other alternatives.”

”And what should that be,” said Kes. She felt dizzy and hadn’t listened to most of  Q’s monologue. All this was going to fast for her. First she was forced to leave Voyager, which she really didn’t wanted to do and leave for some uncertain future and now, this encounter with this being who didn’t have the best reputation, to say the least.

”I have a splendid suggestion, my dear. You will join the Q Continuum! You will travel with me through space and time and you will see places and events you’ve never dreamed about. Wouldn’t it be wonderful!”? ”I don’t know,” said Kes, a bit vague. She felt tired and wanted most of all to get away from this person or being or what it was, who talked and talked, almost like a parrot. The horrifying thought of being together with Q for maybe an eternity didn’t please her at all. There was only one thing that she really wanted and when she listened to Q a small plan was slowly forming in her head.

”But my dear,” said Q. ”You are really making it difficult for me. I’m sure there is something you really want to do. Wish something and you will see that all that you want and wish can come true.” ”There is indeed one thing I wish more than anything and I would be so happy if you could fulfil that wish.” ”Go on, tell me, my dear. I promise to fulfil your wish whatever it is,” said Q with a benevolent smile. ”I want to have a lifespan like the humans, I want to be like them as much as possible and I want to be back on Voyager with my friends. I want to travel with them to Earth,” Kes said with determination. ”That’s the only thing I want.” Q stared at her with a surprised look on his face.  ”What! Is that what you want most of all? I can’t believe it?” ”Yes, that’s what I want,” said Kes calmly. ”And you promised to fulfil my wish, whatever it was.” Q continued to stare at her, as he didn’t believe a word. ”You stupid-,”  ”-girl!” he blurted out. ”I’m offering you a place in the Continuum, I’m offering you powers and experiences beyond what you can understand, in fact I’m offering a place in a paradise existence! And what do you want? You want to be like the humans, with a life span of  70-80 years and go back to Voyager to spend the coming years in that tin can together with Janeway’s gang. You must be insane! Totally out of your mind!” ”No,” said Kes very calmly. ”I’m not insane and not out of my mind. I love my friends on Voyager and the life I lived there. I didn’t want to leave; I just did it because I was afraid to destroy the ship with my powers. But without them, I will no longer be a treat to Voyager. I want to go back to my friends on the ship and I beg you to fulfil that wish of mine.”

Q turned around and started to walk round in circles with one hand on the chin, like he was in deep thoughts. Then he turned to Kes again. ”My dear,” he said. ”Fortunately for you, I’m in a good, benevolent mood and I must admit that I do respect your wish. I mean, you really seem to love and care for these people for some strange reason and really want to be together with them.” ”Yes I really do,” said Kes and felt the hope in her heart. ”But I can’t believe why” said Q. ”I mean, don’t you find them very boring and narrow-minded, that Tom Paris with his stupid jokes, the boring, stiff Vulcan and-” I don’t want you to talk like that about my friends, Kes said. ”I love them. They are the best friends I ever had.” ”To be honest,” said Q, ”I just can’t refuse to fulfil such a honest wish from such a beautiful and noble person. I may have a bad reputation among the humans but as you will see I’m not such a bad Q after all. So I will do as you wished, even if it don’t really pleases me”. He snapped his fingers. ”From now on you are still an Ocampa but with a human lifespan and only the small mental abilities you had when you first came on board Voyager. You can no longer destroy the ship, even if you wanted to,” Q said with a wry grin. ”And now I will send you away, some time in the future from the moment you left Voyager.”  ”But,” he said and made a short, dramatic pause; ”I will not send you immediately to Voyager. First you will help me to solve a small problem.” Before Kes could say something, he snapped his fingers once again and everything around her disappeared.

 

Chapter 4

She sat in a shuttle that rocked and shook and first she couldn’t understand what had happened. Then she got control of herself, looked down at the console and then out of the window.

She was in a place of space that she never had seen before. She saw a sun to the left, shining with a sharp white light and in front of her she saw a planet. The planet was approaching very fast. After just some minutes the planet filled the whole screen and then she entered the atmosphere. She could see the landscape coming closer and closer as she struggled with the console to gain control over the shuttle. But her trying was of no avail. The shuttle rocked and shook more and more and was spinning faster and faster towards the ground. She could see some lakes and rivers and also some small, pyramid-shaped buildings. Damn Q, she thought in anger and despair. Is this his revenge for turning his offer down? Will I crash and die on this planet? She tried to steer the shuttle but she only succeeded to slow it down and make some sort of glide-flight towards an open field. The shuttle bumped down on the ground and skidded towards some large trees. There was a crash, her head hit the console and then she fainted.

She came to slowly and heard some excited, worried voices around her. She felt that she was carefully placed on a stretcher and then carried away. She still had her commbadge and the Universal Translator and she began to understand what the voices around her said.  ”She is not a Tara,” she heard a voice say. ”She must be one of them. We must help her.” She tried to look at the person who she had heard but she could only see some pale blue shadows through the haze. Her head ached and everything started to spin around her. Then she lost her conscious again.

Slowly she came to and realized that she was lying in a bed. She felt very uncomfortable because the bed was much too short for her. Slowly she could see more and more of the details of a room. She saw a table where some beautiful flowers were placed in a vase, a beautiful picture of a summer landscape and also a triangular window. She tried to sit but her head started to spin and she had to lie down again. She tried again and this time she could slowly sit up. Her head was aching and she felt pain all over her body but after trying to move arms, hands and legs she realized that nothing was broken. Where am I? she thought. What is this for a place?  She sat so for a while, looking around in the room and trying to remember what had happened. I must have crashed, she thought. But where am I? Then suddenly the door opened and a small humanoid figure entered the room. She stared amazed at him. He could be maybe 1,50 meters tall, his face was pale blue but in contrary to the Bolian Chell on Voyager and the Andorians, who she had seen pictures of, this being had orange-red hair. The short being moved slowly towards her bed and then said in a friendly voice. ”How do you feel?” ”Not too bad, thanks,” said Kes. ”At least I think so. But where am I and who are you?” ”Oh I’m sorry,” said the small being. ”I haven’t introduced myself. I’m Linus and I’m a doctor. This is the planet Vetifer, homeworld of the Famsters and you are on a hospital in the capital city Vetun”. Famsters? she thought. I’ve never heard of them before. She tried to speak but it was difficult to find the words. ”My shuttle crashed,” she said slowly but the little doctor interrupted her. ”You will be fine but you must rest.” He forced her to lie down again and left the room. After a while she fell asleep.

When she woke up next morning she felt much better. Her body was still aching but the worst headache was gone and she felt better. She looked out of the window and saw some beautiful buildings with towers and spires outside. The sun was shining and it was obviously a warm, hot day. She thought about what had happened before. Pure luck that I didn’t get killed, she thought. But she couldn’t understand the purpose of her being here. Why did Q send me to this strange world instead of sending me to Voyager? Is it one of his silly pranks or what? And what is this for a place? Then the door opened and a small female figure with same pale blue skin and red hair as the doctor came in with a tray with some hot beverage in a cup and some soup. The woman put the tray down on the small table, pointed at it and smiled. Then she left the room. Kes slowly started to eat. The food tasted wonderful and the hot beverage too. She had just finished her meal when the door opened and the doctor came in together with another pale-blue-faced humanoid. This person had white hair and a moustache and looked like a dignified and important person.

”Dear lady,” the man said. ”Welcome to our world. I’m Amon, President of the Famsters.” ”My name is Kes,” she said. ”I crashed here-” ”Who are you and where do you come from?” said Amon. ”You are not one of us and you are definitely no Tara. You must be one of them?” ”Them?” said Kes. Them? Tara? She didn’t understand. ”One of the Lynx,” said Amon with respect in his voice. ”Our great friends. They help us against the evil Taras. They look like you.” ”No, I’m Ocampa,” said Kes. ”Ocampa?” said the old man. ”I don’t know what it is. ”It’s my home planet. We live in an underground city.”  She tried to explain were she came from but it was obvious that the old man didn’t understand. ”I was on a starship called Voyager but I had to leave them because the ship was in danger. Then I crashed here. I don’t know where in space this planet is located,” she said.  When she mentioned Voyager the old mans face shone up. ”Do you mean there are others like you in our space? Maybe they are friends of the Lynx. Maybe they also will help us.” Kes had to admit that she had no idea were Voyager could be and that she didn’t know anything about some people called the Lynx. ”I’ve been lost in space for a long time. I don’t know where Voyager can be,” she said. The old man looked sad. ”I’m sorry,” he said. ”But these are troubled times. We are in a state of war with the Taras.”

”Who are the Taras?” asked Kes. ”They are murderers,” said a voice from the door. She looked up and saw a younger Famster coming into the room. ”Murderers and slaughters. They want to annihilate us. But we will fight them! And the Lynx are helping us. With their help we shall win!” ”This is Oki,” said Amon. ”He’s my grandson and our Prime Minister. He’s leading the campaign against the Taras and their mad dictator Attala.” The younger Famster started to explain the situation. ”We have always been a peaceful people,” he said. ”We have learned to travel in space and we have colonized several solar systems and planets in our neighborhood. But some years ago we came in contact with the Taras. First they tried to act as they were friendly. But after a while they started to put pressure on us. They demanded that we should recognize their superiority over us. We refused and then they began to act hostile. They have invaded some of our colonized worlds and outposts and annihilated the habitants. They kill everybody who will not cooperate,” the younger Famster said, his voice trembling with anger. ”Those who survive are taken to their homeworld and executed in front of the dictator in great stadiums with 100 000 spectators. They kill women, children. They are burning people alive; I’ve seen it myself. They are beasts!”

Kes listened horrified to the story. She couldn’t believe how living beings could be so cruel against other living beings. Is there no peace and friendship anywhere, she thought. She had seen enough of violence during her life. She had seen the Kazons, the Viidians, the Borg and other hostile species who had tried to take control over Voyager. She had read about the Earth and Federation history and learned about war between tribes, countries, religious sects and planets. And it all horrified and disgusted her. The old Famster Amon saw the frightened look on her face and said: ”I’m sorry, we didn’t mean to scare you. But you must know what is happening here.” The younger Famster continued his story, now a little calmer: ”Our situation was difficult because they had better spaceships than we had and they also had a lot more spaceships than us. But then came the Lynx. They came in a spaceship as friendly visitors from far away. And when they heard about our situation they decided to stay and help us. Their spaceship is much faster and much more powerful than the Tara ships. You should have seen the chaos they created among the Tara invaders when they tried to invade one of our most important colonies! They wiped them out. Thanks to their help we will have enough time to build more of our own spaceships, which will make it easier for us to defend ourselves. Right now we are building more and better ships as fast as we can and we are teaching our pilots to fly them. When they are ready, it will be impossible for the Tara-bandits to invade us.

Amon looked at Kes and continued: ”When we heard about you, we thought that you were one of the Lynx.” Kes shook her head slowly. ”Ah, it doesn’t matter, Amon said. You will meet them sooner or later. They have their base on one of our outposts near the Tara space. When you have recovered, we will take you there or they will come here to see you. They probably wonder who you are. In the meantime you can stay with us as long as you like.” The two leading Famsters and the doctor slowly left the room. What have I got myself into? she thought. What’s the purpose of Q for sending me here and how can I get in touch with Voyager? She sighed. Voyager can be thousands of light years away. And here I am and I can’t do anything.

 

Chapter 5

”Miss Kes! Miss Kes!” A small Famster boy came running towards her with a smile on his face. ”They want to see you immediately.” She smiled to the boy, took his hand and followed him through the garden to the doctor’s house. She had stayed with the Famsters for about a month of the planets year now. The first week she had just strolled around in the nice capital city of the Famster homeworld, admiring the nice and proper pyramid-shaped houses, their beautiful gardens with so many exotic flowers and fruits, the churches or temples with their towers and spires. She loved the strange sunsets when the blue-white sun was setting in the purple sky and she liked to stroll around in the town market in the evening, just watching the people and feeling the smell of strange spices. She liked the people who were very friendly and treated her with great respect. Maybe too much respect, she thought. They treated her as she was some royalty. And indeed, they actually had to look up at her. Most of the Famsters was much smaller than her and she felt like a giant among them. After some time among the Famsters she had felt the urge to do something more useful. So she had asked if she could help the doctor and he had accepted that with delight.  For some time she had served as a nurse and that had been a good experience. Not so hard as she had expected, most ordinary bruises and diseases. The hospital was well organized but the treatment methods were a little more primitive than she was used to from her work in the sickbay on Voyager. So her knowledge from the Voyager sickbay was good to have here and from time to time she surprised the Famster’s doctors with her suggestions for certain treatments. The medical tricorder she found in the crashed shuttle was also very useful. She had very quickly become very popular among the patients and people around town who called her ”Miss Kes” or ”The Golden Lady” according to her short, blond hair. She hadn’t noticed anything of the ongoing conflict with the Taras. Both sides seemed to be waiting for the other to strike or maybe there were skirmishes in the outermost of the area the Famsters controlled that she didn’t know about. Neither hadn’t she heard or seen anything of the so-called Lynx, the Famsters powerful ally. A people who obviously looked like her. She remembered the doctor’s surprised look when she first used the tricorder on a patient and his comment: ”You are doing like they do. The Lynx! They also use things like that.” After that she had wondered for some time if the Lynx were humans and Starfleet people, maybe another ship from the Alpha Quadrant. But she didn’t really believe that. They shouldn’t have called themselves something like the Lynx and the Prime Directive forbade the Federation to be involved in conflicts between other races and planets

When she came to the house the doctor and another Famster was waiting for her. ”This is Vific,” the doctor said. ”He will take you to the Lynx. They want to see you and maybe they also want you to work for them as a nurse. There are great needs of medical personal on our outposts. But it can be dangerous and nobody will force you to stay there if you don’t want to. The decision is yours. If you like you can come back here and work here with us again. But they want to see you and they wonder who you are.” Well, I really wonder who they are, Kes thought. ”It’s okay, she said to the doctor. I will go to their base and then I make my decision.” The doctor nodded slowly. ”If you don’t come back for some time I would like to thank you for an excellent work. It has been a great pleasure to have you here and you have helped us a lot. I hope that we’ll meet again and until then goodbye and my best regards to our Lynx friends.” She hugged the doctor, as the Famsters always did when they were greeting each other and stepped into the small vehicle that would take her to the airport. I will miss this place, she thought sadly. But maybe I will come back. That depends on what will happen when I meet those Lynx.

They soon reached the airport and soon she was sitting in a small spacecraft heading for space. It felt strange to be back in space again and she felt a strange feeling that something very important should happen in the near future. She had lost the most of her mental abilities when Q let her become an Ocampa with a human lifespan but still she had some sort of strange feelings about people and events. There’s still a lot of my own Ocampa self left in me, she thought. She tried to converse with Vific, the shuttle’s pilot but unfortunately he didn’t seem too talkative. Most of the time she was staring out of the windows at the stars, thinking about her old life on Voyager and wondering where they were now and what would happen next.

Suddenly her pilot got a worried expression on his face. He stared at the screen and began to push some buttons at the console. ”A spaceship,” he said. ”This means trouble. We got to get away from here. ”Is it a Tara ship?” Kes asked, a bit scared. ”No, pirates,” said Vific. ”They steal and attack both us and the Tara’s. They are taking advantage of the war situation and they are very dangerous,” said Vific. We must-” The ship suddenly shook from a phaser shot and smoke started to fill the cabin Then there was a hard bump and the ship stood still. Vific tried to push some buttons at the console but nothing happened. ”Damn it! They got us with a tractor beam,” said Vific, panic clearly showed in his face. Kes could see how their small ship was dragged closer and closer and then into the cargo bay of the bigger pirate ship. There it was standing and she could hear voices and the tapping from running feet outside their vessel. ”Come out,” shouted a harsh voice outside. ”It looks like we have no choice,” said Vific. ”They will probably use gas if we don’t come out.” He opened the door and desperately tried to pull up his phaser. But two of the pirates grabbed him and started to beat him severely. Two other pirates grabbed Kes and threw her out of the Famster vessel. She landed hard on the floor of the cargo bay and was immediately surrounded by the pirates. She sat up and looked at them, trying not to show the pain and anger she felt. They were a bunch of creatures of all sorts. Some of them were humanoid; some of them looked more like animals. The leader, a disgusting figure that looked as he was half human, half pig gave her an evil smile. ”And what do we have here,” he said. ”A little princess. Uf, uf, uf,” he laughed. ”They will pay me a fortune for you.” He dragged her up on her feet. He just didn’t look like a pig, he smelled like one to and Kes tried to keep away from him as much as possible. ”My name is Pjork,” he said, ”and you will treat me with respect or else-” ”Don’t you dare to touch me,” she said. ”I’m a friend of the Lynx.” She wondered if those words would have any affect on this dirty creature. But the pirate leader just laughed again. ”The Lynx! Ha! I know who they are. A bunch of idiots and cowards. They got their hands full with the Taras and they can’t do anything to me. And they don’t know who you are and that we have got you now. They have only heard some tales about the Famsters “golden lady” and that’s why they sent for you. As you can see I’m very well informed. But if you are lucky I will fool them to buy you back.” He laughed again. ”But I don’t think they have what I will demand for you.” ”Buy?” said Kes as if she couldn’t believe the meaning of the word. ”Yes, my princess,” the pirate said. ”You will be the main attraction on the slave market tomorrow.” He turned around. ”Take her to the bridge!” he yelled at two of the pirates. ”I don’t need that Famster idiot. Throw him into the Famster ship, drop it out in space and blow it to pieces!” he screamed. Kes tried to protest but two of the pirates grabbed her and dragged her away into an elevator. The elevator started and then stopped and the doors opened. Then they were on the pirate ship’s bridge. There they tied her in a chair and after a while the pirate leader entered the bridge. Sitting there, tied and helpless, Kes had to see how the pirate ship blasted the Famster vessel into pieces. ”Murderers!” she cried at the pirates. ”That innocent man hadn’t done you any harm.” Pjork slapped her face. ”Shut up, you bitch!” he yelled. ”I don’t want to hit you again because the price can go down if you have bruises on your face. But I will do it again if I have to. We killed him because we didn’t want any witnesses. The Famsters will blame the Taras for your disappearing and it will take time before they realize who abducted you. If they ever find out. And then you are already sold.” He laughed again.

Kes felt the tears in her eyes as she was staring out in the empty space. Once again she was a prisoner and this time it felt worse than when the Kazons captured her on the Ocampa planet. And this time there would be no Neelix or Voyager crew who could save her.

 

Chapter 6

The hours went by and it felt like an eternity before the pirate ship was preparing to land. She could see a planet approaching. It looked desert-like and unfriendly even from space. After a while the ship landed and she was released from the ropes. Pjork grabbed her and dragged her through some corridors until they came to an open door and she could see the desert sand and feel the hot air outside. Pjork gave her a hard push so she flew out of the pirate ship’s door and landed on the ground. It hurt but she tried not to show it. I will not cry in front of these scum, she thought with anger and determination. She looked up and could see a bunch of houses and barracks nearby with some people moving around outside. She could also see some spaceships of different sorts, probably the pirate fleet. Otherwise there was just desert, rocks and small bushes. Two figures came strolling towards the pirate ship. When they came closer she could see, to her big surprise that they were humanoid. In fact, they looked exactly like the humans on Voyager. But these two figures looked shabby and uncivilized. Their clothes were torn and frayed and they were heavily armed with phasers and heavy phaser rifles. One of the strangers was tall and had long, dark hair hanging over his ears and almost in his eyes. The other was broader built, had shorter hair, a moustache and some sort of hat on his head. They both looked like some bandits she once had seen in a holodeck program from Earth’s history that Tom Paris had created on Voyager and they stared at her with hard, mean eyes.

”Get up, you lousy bitch!” Pjork shouted and dragged her up on her feet. Then he turned to the two men and smiled a false smile. ”Ah, good day Novak. A lovely day, isn’t it.” The tall longhaired bandit just glared at him. ”Have you seen what I have got,” continued Pjork in a triumphant manner. ”A real little princess! Isn’t she cute, uf, uf, uf. She will bring me a fortune on the slave market tomorrow. Or maybe you want to buy her? Pjork pushed her towards the unsmiling bandit. I’m sure she can entertain your crew, uf, uf uf.” The pirate laughed. The tall bandit gave her a short, mean glance and then turned to Pjork. ”I’m more interested in the weapons you say that you want to sell,” the bandit said with a mean, angry voice. ”I’m fighting a war, not running a girlschool”. ”Uf, uf, uf,” laughed Pjork. ”But maybe I can sell her to you as a bonus if you buy a lot of my excellent weapons. Or maybe I keep her for my own entertainment, uf, uf, uf.” The pirate laughed and Kes felt a chill down her spine. ”We’ll discuss that later,” said Novak in his hash voice. ”Now I want to see the weapons.” ”As you wish, my friends,” said Pjork. He turned to two of the pirates. ”Take her away and lock her in the basement. But don’t touch her. I want her to be in good condition for the market tomorrow!” The two pirates grabbed her and dragged her away to a large building nearby.

The hours went by and it was soon dark outside. Kes sat on a small bunk in a dark cell. She was hungry and thirsty but she didn’t want to beg for anything to the rat-faced creature that guarded the cell and from time to time opened a small shutter on the door to look at her. Once she had lost her temper and threw a tin can against the small shutter. The guard had just giggled and shut it. Kes felt a total hopelessness. She was a prisoner and there was no way to escape. Tomorrow she would be sold as a slave on the market and what would happen after that. Or maybe Pjork would sell her to those bandits as a part of a weapons deal? Or maybe the disgusting pirate wanted to keep her for himself? As a servant, or maybe worse.  She felt a cold shiver and couldn’t decide what was the worst scenario. She stared at the walls and felt the tears in her eyes. How she longed to be back on Voyager with her friends. Or at least back with the nice and friendly Famsters. The thought of happy times just made her more depressed and she cried softly. But after a while she calmed down and started to remember her mental training with Tuvok. Try to be strong, she thought. Try to concentrate.

After a while she was calm again. Now she was thinking clear. She should escape. Maybe she could steal a spaceship and at least get away to the Famsters again. When she was on Voyager, Tom Paris had given her lessons how to fly a shuttle. Maybe these lessons could be useful now. Or maybe she could get a phaser and force someone to fly her to the Famsters. For some strange reason she felt very optimistic about the project. She started to wonder about her mental powers. Did she still have some of it left and could she use it to escape? At least it was worth a try. First she had to fool the guard. She laid down on the dirty floor. ”Water,” she started to moan. ”Water!” The shutter opened and she could see the rat-faced guard’s red eyes staring at her. ”Water,” she whispered. The guard disappeared and she heard him run away. Then the footsteps came back. The door opened and the guard came in with a bowl of water. Now, she thought. She sat straight up, stared at him and tried to concentrate, just the way she had done with Tanis, that time when Suspiria wanted to destroy Voyager. And it worked! It really worked! She could feel the energy from her mind reach the guard who suddenly dropped the bowl and just stood there, staring with a silly expression on his face. Her powers weren’t so strong as they used to be once but still strong enough to confuse the guard. Then she jumped to her feet, kicked the guard in the belly, grabbed his phaser-rifle and smashed him on the head with it. She looked at the guard, lying there unconscious. I hope I didn’t hurt him too much, she thought. She kneeled beside the guard to check if he was still alive, which he was. She felt some pity for the guard but that disappeared when she remembered the cold-blooded killing of Vific, her pilot. Then she sneaked out of the door and locked it. She turned around-and looked straight in the eyes of the two bandits from earlier, the two who wanted to buy weapons from Pjork. They stared at her in disbelief, and then they came towards her. Oh no!, she thought and she felt panic and a total despair. Not now when she just had escaped. She could understand what has happened. That disgusting creature Pjork had sold her to them and now they were here to fetch her. But she would never go with them. Never! She looked at the phaser-rifle in her hand but she wasn’t really sure how to use it. She hesitated a second and the tall bandit that Pjork had called Novak grabbed the rifle and snatched it from her grip. She backed against the wall and prepared herself to fight. Novak came towards her. I’ll scratch your face and kick you, she thought. I will rather die than surrender to you bandits. But the strange, worried look on the bandit’s face made her hesitate and in the next second he had grabbed her hands and put his hand over her mouth. She tried to kick him and break loose from his grip when she heard him whisper in a strange, worried voice. ”Please, take it easy. Don’t scream. We are here to help you.” She stared at him with total disbelief but he continued to talk in a friendly, soft voice that just didn’t fit together with his bandit-like looks: ”Please don’t scream! Promise me! Calm down! I let you loose if you just calm down and listen to me. We will do you no harm. We will help you, I promise!” She relaxed and the man released her slowly and looked her in the eyes. ”Help me?” she said as if she didn’t understand what he was saying. ”Yes,” said Novak. ”Don’t you understand? We are friends of the Famsters. We are the Lynx.” She stared at him with even bigger disbelief. Could this really be true? Could these shabby bandits really be the Lynx people, those friendly aliens who the Famsters adored and had told her so many good stories about? But suddenly she felt for some reason that this was really the truth, that she really could trust these men. ”But how did you know?” she asked, still not totally convinced. ”A Famster ship observed what happened on their radar, they contacted us and-” The other man suddenly interrupted him: ”You can tell her the story of your life later,” he barked. We gotta get out of here before that asshole Pjork understand what we are doing. Let’s go!”

 

Chapter 7

They started to run through the empty corridor. ”What happened to the guard?” whispered Novak. ”I knocked him out,” said Kes. ”You did?” he said and looked at her, obviously surprised. ”Yes,” she said with her deep, calm voice. ”Oh dear,” he said with a funny accent and shrugged his shoulders. They opened a door, ran up a stair and came to another corridor. It looked like they were going to make it when a side door suddenly opened and two pirates stared at them. ”Down,” screamed Novak and pushed Kes to the floor. The other man fired his phaser and the two pirates fell to the floor. Novak grabbed Kes’s hand and pulled her up. ”Let’s go,” he said. But before they reached the door in the end of the corridor, another side-door opened and there stood the pirate-leader Pjork. He looked as he was totally out of his mind. ”You lousy bastards!” he screamed. ”I won’t let you take her. She’s mine! She will bring me a fortune on the market tomorrow!” Novak and the other man placed themselves between Kes and Pjork and pointed with their phasers at the ugly pirate. ”No she will certainly not,” said Novak, almost half-jokingly with a funny undertone in his voice. He smiled meanly at Pjork, who was seething with anger. ”We are taking her back to the Famsters. Now put down your phaser, be a nice bastard and let us pass. Then you have a chance to live longer, Novak said.” ”No you will not have her!” screamed Pjork and raised his phaser. ”Suit yourself, man,” the other man said and fired. Pjork fell to the floor with a surprised expression on his face. Kes stared at the body on the floor. ”You killed him,” she said. ”Well, at least we gave him a chance, said the other man. That was more than he did to poor Vific.” They ran out of the door. ”Mike,” said Novak. Go into his office and take back the gemstones we paid for that crap he sold us, then try to stir up some mayhem here so that we can get back to the ship. We’ll beam you up later!” ”Okay, said the other man. But hurry!”  Novak grabbed Kes’s hand. ”Come on!” he said. They ran round the corner and passed another house. Suddenly Kes saw a shadowy figure, aiming at them with a rifle. ”Watch out!” she cried and gave Novak a hard push so they both fell to the ground. Next second a phaser-rifle blew a hole in the wall where Novak just had stood. ”Damn,” he said and started to fire back. ”That was close, I never saw him,” he whispered and looked at Kes with gratefulness. Then suddenly the man called Mike came running towards them. He carried a big sack. In his other hand he held a small, round thing, which he suddenly threw at the sniper. The thing exploded with a sharp crack and there was a hole in the ground where the sniper had stood. ”Thanks,” said Novak. ”Are you still here, you idiots,” whispered Mike. ”Get out of here and get that bloody ship going while I’m enjoying myself here. But don’t forget to pick me up.” Novak grabbed Kes’s hand again and they started to run over the open field. Behind them they could here a siren start to wail and also some shots and another explosion.

They reached some bushes and stopped to catch their breath. ”I guess you saved my life there, said Novak politely. Thank you. I really mean it.” He looked very grateful. Kes looked at the man who surprised her with his polite manners and speech and felt sorry that she had taken him for a bandit.  ”Maybe we are even then,” she said. ”Well, let’s get out of here first before we start counting such things. And we must help Mike.” They started to run again until they saw the silhouette of a large spaceship. Behind them a great explosion could be heard and in the light from the explosion Kes could see two shadowy figures outside the spaceship. ”Hey, don’t shoot!” yelled Novak. ”It’s me, Novak!” They came closer to the dark figures. ”What the hell is going on?” Kes heard a voice said. ”Did you get the girl?” ”Where’s Mike? ”Typical,” she heard the voice from the other figure. ”You take care of the girl and Mike plays with the fireworks. I should have guessed that.” ”Shut up, you idiot,” barked Novak. ”Get inside and tell Oldric to get this junk heap moving as soon as possible. We have a job to do here.” Novak dragged Kes inside and together with the other two men they ran up some stairs and came in to what looked like the bridge on a battleship. Novak pointed at an empty seat. ”Sit there,” he commanded Kes. She sat down, totally exhausted while Novak started to bark out orders to the left and the right. She looked at the rough-looking figures that were running around in some well-organized chaos and to her great relief she saw that the man at the conn was a pale blue-faced Famster. Now she was really sure that this was the Lynx and that she soon would be safe again. She could feel how the big spaceship started and left the ground. Novak sat at a console and tried to hail Mike. Kes also heard a female voice from somewhere shouting  ”What’s happening? Where’s Mike”. Novak shouted a reproach to her but Kes couldn’t hear what. Then she heard Novak's voice through the sound of the engines: ”I think we have you Mike. Can we beam you up?” She could hear Mike’s voice through some speaker: ”Yes, but quick, you lousy fool. It’s getting a bit hot here right now.” She heard the familiar sound of a transporter and then Mike appeared on the bridge with a phaser-rifle and a sack in his hands, met with cheers from the rest of the crew. ”I thought you had forgotten me,” he said and smiled. ”Well, Novak was so busy playing hide-and-seek with the girl so he almost forgot to go on board.” Kes recognized the voice as the one who had made some sarcastic remarks to Novak before. It belonged to a short, stubby figure with mischief in his eyes. ”Ah, shut up you fat bastard,” barked Novak but the hash words didn’t really fit together with the smile on Novak’s face. But then he became serious again. ”Now, let’s wipe out this place. I want to see their weapon supply and all their ships destroyed. I want a nice, relaxing flight back and I don’t want any of those ships chasing us!”

The spaceship turned and dived. Kes couldn’t see so much from the point where she was sitting but she could hear the sound of phaser firing. She could also see the shine from many explosions and fires and she could see the happy faces on the crew and hear their sarcastic comments. A great explosion made the ship shake and shudder. ”Maan, what a blast that was” she heard one crewmember said. ”Better than the New Years Eve fireworks!” ”They probably have some headache and ear-ache down there now,” Mike said. How can they joke about such things, thought Kes. Then Novak waived his arm. All right, that’s it. Let’s go home! The party is over!” he said. The ship turned and then everything went quiet at the bridge. Suddenly Kes started to tremble. All that had happened during the long day suddenly came over her. The kidnapping, the cold-blooded killing of her pilot, the pirates, the cell, her escape and then the miraculous rescue. All that had become too much for her. She could feel the tears coming and she buried her head in her hands. Then she felt a hand on her head and heard a female voice: ”Are you all right, my friend. Look, here’s some food for you.” She looked up and could see a dark-haired woman’s face through the tears. She wiped away the tears and saw the smiling woman clearly. She was holding a tray with a plate with some stew and a cup with something that smelled almost like coffee. Behind the woman she could see the faces of Novak, Mike and some other crewmembers. They looked at her with deep concern in their eyes. Kes felt deeply moved when she saw how worried they were for her. You may look like bandits, she thought, and maybe even act like bandits but you are indeed good, nice people. She tried to look at them. ”I-” ”I’m okay, thank you” she said and tried to smile. ”I’m just-” ”It’s alright,” said the woman and turned to the rest of the crew: ”Now give us some space! She needs some rest, can’t you see that.” ”All right, back to work,” said Mike and the group dissolved. Kes ate and drank with good appetite. She had almost forgotten how hungry she was. ”Do you feel better now?” the woman asked. ”Yes, thank you,” said Kes. ”I can bring you some more if you like.” ”Thank you, it would be nice,” said Kes. She leaned back and tried to relax but the thoughts were just rushing through her head. There was something in the back of her mind that disturbed her but she couldn’t just get the grip of it. Something about this ship-.

The woman came back with more food and coffee. ”Here’s some more, she said. ”By the way, I’m Linda. I’m Mike’s girlfriend. And your name is Kes, I understand.” Kes nodded. She felt an immediate liking for the dark-haired woman. ”Are you the only woman here?” she asked. ”No,” said Linda, ”there are two more. They are both qualified engineers,” smiled Linda. ”But I’m not. I’m just hanging around as Mike’s girlfriend.” She laughed.  Kes smiled at Linda and they chatted for a while about almost nothing. She was just going to ask Linda about what the Lynx were and why they were helping the Famsters when Novak and Mike came back. ”Do you feel alright now?” asked Novak politely with deep concern in his eyes. ”Yes,” said Kes and gave him a smile. ”Well, that was something,” said Mike. ”Good to see that you like it here,” said Novak with a shy smile. ”And, by the way, thanks again.” He turned to Mike and said: ”You know, she saved my life. That really means something!” ”And you saved me from these pirates so then we are even,” said Kes. Novak smiled and sat down on the floor in front of her. ”You know,” he said and looked at Kes, ”when I saw how that pig treated you, pushing and mistreating you in all ways, I was almost ready to shoot him at the spot. But I had to pretend that I didn’t care, just to get a chance to fool him later. I hope you forgive me for that.” ”Never mind,” said Kes, ”the important thing is that you helped me.” “And that greedy creature tried to sell you to us together with the weapons,” said Novak with anger in his voice. “In fact, he didn’t know that we knew all about what had happened. As I tried to say earlier, the Famsters informed us about what had happened and then we flied straight here and pretended that we wanted to do business with that pig. In fact, we have done some business with him before but the most that he had sold to us was crap,” said Novak. Another voice interrupted them. It was the short stubby man again. ”Maybe we could give those weapons to the Taras,” the man said.  ”They would probably kill themselves if they try to use that junk and that would be of great help for us, heh, heh!”. ”Yeah right,” laughed Novak. ”But he have probably tried to sell them some junk too. However we got the gemstones back and that’s good because we may need them for better purposes.” Then he turned to Kes again. ”Sooner or later we would have wiped out that place anyway,” said Novak. ”Now you gave us the opportunity. But now you must tell us about yourself. We’ve been curious ever since our Famster friends told us about you and how you landed on their planet. They thought you were one of us but obviously you are not, well not until now.” he said with a wry grin. ”And you’re not a Tara. Who are you?” ”I’m an Ocampa,” said Kes. ”Ocampa? Never ‘eard of it,” said Novak in some strange dialect and shook his head. Kes understood that it was an attempt to joke from his side and smiled. She tried to describe where her home planet was located but then realized that it was too far away for the Lynx people to understand. She asked if they had heard about the Kazons, the Viidians or the Sikarians but they just shook their heads. But when she mentioned the Borg, they reacted. ”We know about them,” said Mike. ”And we do all we can to avoid them. Fortunately they are not expanding their empire in this direction and we are thankful for that.” ”But how did you get to the Famsters?” asked Novak. ”Your planet seems to be very far away.”

”It’s a long story,” said Kes and started to tell them about what had happened to her. She told them about the Ocampa homeworld, their underground city, the Caretaker and the Kazons. She noticed that more and more of the crew was gathering around her when she was speaking. She told them about how the Kazons captured her and how Neelix and the Voyager crew had saved her. ”And these good people were on board a ship called Voyager.  They came from an alliance of planets very far away called the Federation and-”  Suddenly she realized that everything was incredible quiet around her and that everyone on the bridge was staring at her with surprise, except for the Famster Oldric who sat at the conn with his usual, worried look and was steering the ship. ”The Federation?” whispered Novak and looked at her with astonishment, like he’d never seen her before. ”Do you mean the Federation in the Alpha Quadrant with their headquarters at a planet called Earth? Are you saying that there is a Federation starship in this part of space?” Kes looked at him and suddenly all loose pieces fell on the right places. The technology on this ship, the consoles, computers and transporters who had seemed so familiar, it was Federation technology. And these Lynx people, they were humans, just like Janeway, Chakotay, Paris and most of the others on Voyager. Now she understood. She had only been too tired and exhausted earlier to see and understand. But now she knew. ”Yes,” she said with a happy smile. ”And you must be humans too. But you are not Starfleet, like the Voyager crew?” she asked with a sudden worried look on her face. “Who are you?”  Novak looked down: ”Well, you know, we are not Starfleet and Starfleet is not our best friends, to be honest. We were in an organization called the Maquis. Have you heard anything about it?” ”Yes,” said Kes, now smiling again. ”There were some Maquis who joined Voyager just before I arrived. Their leader Chakotay-” ”What?” Once again Novak interrupted Kes and just stared at her. ”Are you saying that Chakotay is on a Federation starship here in the Delta Quadrant?” He rose to his feet and held up his arms in a theatrical gesture. ”I don’t believe it. This is-”He looked around at the rest of the crew who looked totally stunned. They looked at Novak, then at Kes and then back on Novak again. ”It’s true, I promise,” said Kes. ”He’s Second In Command after the Captain.” ”Who is the Captain?” asked Mike who seemed to be calmer than most of the others. ”Captain Janeway,” said Kes.  ”Captain Kathryn Janeway,” she said again, this time with even more pride in her voice. ”Never ‘eard of her,” said Novak in his funny way. He seemed to have got control of himself again. ”No,” said Mike. ”And I’ve never heard of Voyager.” ”It’s a new ship,” said Kes. ”The mission who accidentally brought it here was it’s first.”  ”Chakotay,” said Novak a bit dreamy. ”A funny guy. I remember when I and a friend of mine, Tom Paris-” ”He’s also on the ship,” shouted Kes, now totally excited over the way her story had changed the situation. ”He was the one who teached me how to fly a shuttle and-” This time both Novak and the others looked totally stunned. It took some time before Novak slowly started to talk again. ”You’re not saying that Tom Paris,” and Kes could hear the stress on each syllable, ”that Tom Paris also is on this ship, together with Chakotay and-” ”Oh, dear. This is incredible”. He stopped, not capable to say anything more. ”But it’s true, I promise,” said Kes and smiled. ”Please, believe me it is true.” ”Sure that you’re not some sort of magician or mind reader who’s playing games with us,” said Novak. ”But you look like a very nice and honest girl, so-” ”I promise that every word is true,” said Kes. ”Please let me tell you the whole story from the beginning again.”

She started from the beginning and this time they let her tell the story without interrupting her. Instead they were listening intensively, like some schoolclass to a teacher. She also told them about her own adventures which had led her to the Famster’s planet but she didn’t mention anything about Q. These people would probably not believe that story, she thought. Not after all the sensations I’ve already given them. ”This is fantastic,” said Novak when she had finished her story. ”I could never dream about Chakotay and Paris together on a Starfleet vessel. I would rather imagine Sonny as an admiral,” said Novak. He smiled and pointed at the stubby figure that used to make funny remarks from time to time about everything. The object for his pointing rose to his feet, stood in attention and tried to look admiralish in some funny way. ”No, they weren’t the best friends” said Linda, who had been quiet a long time. ”But they are good friends now,” smiled Kes. ”Like everyone on Voyager.” Novak rose to his feet and stared round at the others with a fanatic glance in his eyes. ”Do you know what this means,” he said. ”It means that we have a better chance to get home. If we can find Voyager and join them, I mean, that Starship is a lot faster than this piece of junk. Then we have a chance.” The others were looking at him with excitement in their eyes. ”Yeah, let’s go out and find them,” said another member of the crew. ”And what about us?” Everybody turned around and looked at the Famster at the conn. ”What about us Famsters? What will happen when the mad dictator of Tara orders his armada to attack us? You promised to help us. We are not strong enough yet to fight the Tara armada.” Novak looked down, apparently shaken over the consequences his decision would make. ”We will solve that problem in one way or another, I promise you that Oldric,” said Novak. ”Believe me, we will not abandon you. But we must find Voyager. I only wish I would know how,” he said with a sigh and looked at Kes again. ”They can be 1000 light years from here and I don’ know in what direction we shall seek.” ”Maybe,” said Kes. But she had a strange feeling that Voyager wasn’t so far away after all.

 

 

Chapter 8

”This is Captain Kathryn Janeway on the Starship Voyager from the United Federation of Planets.” Janeway said, staring at the screen. The screen in front of her changed.  It showed the interior of a spaceship and a humanoid. The humanoid’s face was lemon yellow, his hair was black and cut like Chakotay’s and he had pointed ears, like a Vulcan. ”I’m Kenzei, Flight Brigadier of the Tara Empire, lead by our great Praetor, our beloved Leader Attala,” the man on the screen said. ”What brings you to our space?” ”We are coming in peace,” said Janeway calmly. ”We want to visit your planet to buy supplies from you and exchange information. We were brought to this part of the galaxy against our wish and now we are on our way home. If you are not interested in trade and exchange, then we are only asking for permission to pass through your territory.” ”You are not allied with the Famsters?” Kenzei asked with suspicion in his voice. ”And not with the Lynx? You look like them.” ”Believe me, I don’t know anything about the species you have mentioned” said Janeway. ”We are here on a friendly mission. We are no threat to anybody and will not get involved with internal conflicts.” The other man looked relieved. He turned around and Janeway could see that he was talking to some other person. ”In that case,” he said with a smile, ”it’s an honor to welcome you to our glorious, prospering, ever-expanding Empire, led by the great Attala. We will escort you to our homeworld, the paradise-like Tara where you will see with your own eyes, the progress our people have made under the wise leadership of the Praetor.” He ended the transmission and Janeway could see how the Tara ships surrounded Voyager. ”Are they escorting us or watching us?” said Tom Paris. ”And who is that Attala?” ”Probably some local dictator” said Chakotay. I guess that the markings on the spaceships is a portrait of the leader.” ”It will be interesting to see what their planet looks like,” said Harry Kim ”Well, we’ll see when we get there” said Chakotay. ”What disturbs me is that they seem to be at war with someone.” ”Yes, I don’t like that at all,” said Janeway. They had had some bad experiences on their journey with planets at war. She remembered when Tom Paris was accused of murderer in a sinister plot on one of two planets at war with each other and the difficulties they had to prove his innocence. That was why she wanted to avoid such places as much as possible. ”The problem is that we need to fill our food supplies. This part of space doesn’t seem to contain so many inhabited worlds or planets where we can find food. So we have to make a visit to this Tara planet and their beloved leader, either we want it or not.”

Finally they saw the planet on the screen. In a short time, what who appeared to be just a small dot on the screen had slowly grown bigger and bigger as they approached it. Now the planet filled the whole screen. A typical M-class planet with oceans, forests, fields, rivers and mountains. Janeway looked at it with great interest. ”We are hailed from the planet,” said Kim. ”Open a channel!” replied Janeway.

A bald headed Tara appeared on the screen. ”I’m General Gul, a member of the Government of Tara and the Supreme Council of Tara which is lead by our Praetor, the great Leader Attala. On behalf of our beloved Leader, the great Attala I warmly welcome you to our planet. We will receive a delegation from your ship in our capital, the beautiful city of Hamo where we would like to exchange information and discuss the possibility for you to buy food supplies from us. We will advice you where to land” ”Thank you” said Janeway. ”But we have a technology which make it possible for us to beam ourselves right down to your capital. Please give us the exact coordinates to where you want us to meet you and we will beam down as soon as possible.” General Gul looked at her with astonishment. ”Ah, you must really be an advanced people. I’m sure that our Leader, the glorious Attala will be interested in meeting foreign guests with such an advanced technology.” ”He’s a great scientist himself and very interested in advanced technology.” ”Thank you”, said Janeway again. ”We look forward to meet you. We’ll beam down in about half an hour.

”Well, that’s it, said Janeway. I wonder what we will encounter down there. They seem friendly enough to me but you can never be sure. ”Curious!” she heard Tuvok say. ”What is it Mr.Tuvok” ”I have scanned the planet and it looks like all technological resources are concentrated to the capital and its environments. The capital has a high-developed technology and is indeed also well defended. There are a lot of military installations surrounding the capital and their military technology seems to be very advanced. There are also rich agricultural areas around the capital where they seem to grow what they need for their supplies. But the rest of the planet is incredibly undeveloped. It’s strange because the planet itself is rich with natural resources. I’ve discovered a lot of settlements like villages, small farms and also smaller towns all around the planet but they are very undeveloped. They hardly have any energy sources, only old-fashioned electric plants, as we had on earth in the middle of the 20th century and most of the settlements don’t even have that.

”It sounds strange,” said Janeway. ”But that’s their problem, not ours. However I’m curious what we will see down there. Mr.Chakotay, Mr.Paris, Mr.Neelix! Meet me in the transporter room! Mr.Tuvok, you have the bridge!”

 

 

Chapter 9

They were standing outside a large building in something that looked like a combined airport and military space-base. There were vehicles and smaller ships almost everywhere and further away they could also see some larger space ships. There were a lot of people running around, obviously working but no one seemed to take any notice of them. Instead the people who they saw looked away and tried to ignore them totally. It was a warm, sunny day, almost too hot, Janeway thought. The capital was located near the planets equator and that explained the hot temperature. Janeway looked at the huge portrait on the building. It showed a man with the typical lime-yellow Tara face, short hair and pointed ears. In some way he bore some resemblance to the respected Vulcan Mr. Spock. But the eyes seemed sinister and the look of the man and the portrait itself symbolized only one thing. Power! Total, unchallenged power. A typical dictator, Janeway thought. A voice interrupted her thoughts: Ah, there you are! Welcome to our wonderful city!” She saw General Gul approach in front of a large delegation. The Taras were rather tall beings; almost like the Voyager crew and they all were the same uniforms, olive-green with yellow and red insignia. They exchanged formal greetings and Janeway presented the others in her delegation. ”You are all welcome to our wonderful world”, General Gul said. He smiled but Janeway could see that there was no warmth in his eyes. ”Astonishing” said Neelix. ”You people seem to be a technologic advanced civilization, it reminds me of-” ”Of course,” interrupted General Gul and looked at Neelix the same way a scientist use to study an insect, ”thanks to our Praetor, the beloved Attala, we have reached this advanced stadium. He has personally led the development of our society.” General Gul turned to Janeway again and said in a brisk way: ”This is the schedule. You will first have a guided tour in our wonderful city where you with your own eyes will be able to see what progress we have made under the leadership of our great Leader, our beloved Attala. Then,” and suddenly he smiled like a child on Christmas Eve ”you will be received in the Praetors Palace where you will meet the Great Leader Himself !” He made a short, dramatic pause as if he expected that Janeway and the others in the Voyager delegation should fall down on their knees, ”And also the other members of the Supreme Council. There we will discuss practical problems and the possibility for you to buy food supplies from our rich gardens. Then we will have a great celebration for you, our honored guests, at the Great Attala Stadium where you will be seated at the VIP lounge together with the Leader Himself.” He then turned to a younger man who was standing besides him: ”This is Captain Ezel. He will be your guide.” Then he bowed, turned around and walked away together with the rest of the delegation. The Tara called Captain Ezel smiled at Janeway and the others. ”Right” he said. ”Now I will show you our beautiful city. Hamo, the pearl of our glorious Empire! It’s a great pleasure for me to show you, honored guests from space, what we have achieved thanks to our beloved Praetor. Follow me!” He turned around and started to walk so fast that Janeway and the others hardly could follow. They walked through the great building, which probably was the center of the airport, a high-technologic masterpiece with a lot of computer screens, moving stairways and such things that could also be found on a space-base on Earth. On the other side of the house, outside it, there was a large vehicle. They placed themselves in the vehicle at Ezel’s instructions, with Janeway, Ezel and the driver in the front seat and the others in the back seat, and the sightseeing tour began.

The next hours surpassed everything that Janeway ever had experienced during her visits on other planets. They were shuffled round the city in such a hurry that it almost made them dizzy. They saw a lot of interesting things and they visited a lot of institutions, factories, agricultural farms and places worth seeing. But in fact they did see almost nothing. On every spot they visited they were only allowed to a short glimpse of the place itself. Most of the time they were standing right upside down, listening to their guide who told them about how the great Praetor personally was responsible for the building of this and that factory or how the Leader had invented this and that important thing or how the Leader had encouraged the scientists or the technical experts to invent or create this or that machine, computer or whatever it was. When Janeway tried to ask some serious questions about science or technology, the questions were just waved away with phrases about what a genius the great Praetor was and that only he could know about such things. When Janeway tried to talk to one of the scientist in one of the institutions they visited, the eager, talkative Ezel placed himself between the scientist and Janeway and said: ”The Leader can give you the answer of that question.” Everywhere there were pictures, paintings and portraits of the Leader. Even the olive-green State Flag, which they saw on almost every building had a portrait of the Leader in the center, his face placed in something who resembled the sun with sunrays all around. Janeway had read about such personal cults from Earth’s history but this was worse than anything she had ever read or heard about. All this was slowly start to get at them. Tom Paris seemed to be utterly bored and Janeway feared that he would come up with some of his funny remarks, which would insult their guide. Chakotay didn’t say much but Janeway could see in his eyes that he didn’t really like what he was seeing. Neelix, for once was totally quiet. It was like all his energy had been totally drained from him by the high tempo and the guide’s instant talking. But Janeway had, despite all the propaganda, made herself a clear picture of the society they were visiting. It was a highly developed society, apparently somewhere below Federation standards but still highly developed. There were no signs of war, despite what their hosts had told them but there were military personnel everywhere. It seems like the military is in charge, Janeway thought. It was also clear that all resources had indeed been concentrated to the capital while the rest of the planet was left of it’s own. Can it be for propaganda reasons? Janeway wondered. So that they have something to show for foreign visitors. Or is it military reasons? Or both? She wasn’t sure. When they were eating a very good lunch at the city’s most expensive restaurant, their guide explained that the city was rebuilt just about ten years ago. ”When the Leader came to power about fifteen years ago he decided that our people should have a capital to be proud of. So he gave the order that the old capital should be wiped out and a new, glorious city should be built in its place. So we tore down everything and under the Leaders splendid instructions we built a new beautiful city that we are very proud of. The workers worked day and night for five years to honor the Leader and the city was built in record time.” Chakotay, who as a Native American had great respect for all living beings, the land, traditions, cultural buildings and memorials asked carefully if such a total destruction was necessary. ”Of course!” said Ezel. ”The Leader knows what is best for us. He gives the orders and we follow. He’s a genius!”  ”What happened to the inhabitants when you were rebuilding the city?” Janeway asked curiously. ”Oh, they had to live in barracks and tents for some years. But they were happy to do so for the Leader, so that his great plan would be fulfilled.” Janeway looked down but said nothing.

After visiting an art gallery which, as expected was filled with portraits of the Leader in different situations and poses, their guide told them that he wanted to show them the most beautiful art that’s ever been created in the whole Universe. They drove up to a hill outside the town and there it was. Overlooking the whole city, with the size of an Earth skyscraper was an enormous portrait of the Leader. The whole portrait was constructed of small multi-colored lightbulbs so that the huge portrait would glow in the night when the power was switched on. ”Have you ever seen such a beautiful portrait?” exclaimed their guide. ”And it’s even more beautiful at night. It can be seen over the whole city of Hamo! You must come here tonight and see it again!” Janeway was shocked and so were the others. Not only about the portrait itself but also about such a waste of time and energy. ”No wonder that the rest of the planet is practically without energy when you waste it on such things” she thought. Then finally Tom Paris reacted and let out some of the boredom and irritation he felt: ”Couldn’t you have made it larger” he said with a mischief smile. ”We didn’t think about it,” said Ezel, a bit surprised, ”but I will make a suggestion to the beloved Leader and then we will build a larger one.”

Later on they passed an enormous sports stadium. ”Here is the stadium where the celebrations for you will take place,” said their guide. ”Our great Praetor, the beloved Attala have himself made the drawings for the stadium and personally led the building of it. Of course, it is named after him, The Great Attala Stadium.” And here” he said as he waived to their driver to stop and more or less commanded the Voyager crew to step out of the vehicle, ”is a marvelous statue of our beloved Leader.” The statue was about eighteen meters high, made of something that looked like gold and showed the leader with his arm outstretched as if he welcomed the visitors to the stadium. Janeway sighed. Will this never end? she thought. ”Do you know what the inscription says” said Ezel and pointed of the strange Tara letters on the socle. ”No, unfortunately not.” said Janeway in a desperate attempt to be polite and not show the boredom and irritation she and the other felt. ”It says: Never before have our world seen such a great man. All that he does is good!” said their guide, almost with tears in his eyes. ”Oh, I thought it was something about scoring the winning goal in the local soccer championships!” said Tom Paris with a smile on his face. Janeway turned around and gave him a stern look. It was bad enough as it was and she didn’t want any trouble with the guide or any other Tara. Fortunately their guide didn’t understand the irony in Paris’s words.

 

Chapter 10

Kes walked through the enormous hall in the underground base and entered a smaller room where the mess hall was. When she came in she saw some of the Lynx crew sitting there and also some Famsters. They all looked at her and some of them nodded, waived or smiled at her. ”Hello Blondie!” the man called Sonny shouted. She gave them a smile back. It felt good to be here among friends, she thought. Almost like her life on board Voyager. She went to the counter where a short, talkative human, who she had seen on the ship yesterday, gave her a cup of coffee and some food. ”Here you are, my dear,” the man said, I hope you will survive it.” Kes gave him a smile, a bit uncertain to what she should answer. She understood that the man was joking but she found it hard to come up with a similar reproach. She chose an empty table and began to eat. After a while she was joined by two of the girls in the Lynx crew. One of them, Amy was a blond quiet, friendly girl and Kes found it hard to believe that she was the girlfriend of Sonny, the loud, talkative stubby figure whose pleasure in life was to tell half-dirty stories and make funny half-evil comments on almost everything. A really odd couple, thought Kes, but the Voyager crew must have had the same thoughts about her and Neelix when she was Neelix’s girlfriend. The other girl, Sandie was a total contrast. A tall, blond girl, who in temper and manners reminded Kes a little about B’Elanna Torres, the half-Klingon Chief engineer on Voyager. Sandie found it hard to believe that Seska had been a traitor. They had obviously been good friends once. Kes felt sad about having to tell the true story for her. ”It’s difficult for me to believe that she was a traitor, or more correct a Cardassian agent. She always seemed so involved in our cause,” Sandie said. ”I’m sorry to have to tell you this but that’s the truth,” Kes answered. ”You don’t have to be sorry,” Sandie said with a smile, ”it’s not your fault.” They talked for a while and Kes realized that she had been totally accepted by the Lynx people. She had begin to like these rough but honest and friendly people and hoped in her heart that they would find Voyager soon and that Captain Janeway would accept the Lynx people and let them join the Voyager crew. When the two other girls decided to leave and go back to work, Kes decided to have another cup of coffee. She must admit that this coffee tasted a lot better than the brew Neelix used to serve on Voyager.

They had arrived to this underground base on one of the Famster Empires remote planets late last evening. Kes had been totally exhausted after the long day which had started so bad but ended so good and she had fell asleep immediately in the small room that they had advised to her. After a long night sleep she felt fresh and in good mood again and she really looked forward to the coming events. She was fully convinced that she would meet her friends on Voyager again in a short time. She wondered about Q’s role in this story. Had he sent her to the Famster world on purpose so that she would encounter the Lynx? And in that case, why? Novak who suddenly entered the mess hall interrupted her in her thoughts. He smiled and waived at her and strolled to the counter where he pointed at the can with coffee: ”Give me some of it, you lousy poison-mixer,” he shouted. ”Sod of, you lousy dog” was the answer he got. The two of them started to exchange some funny jokes that Kes didn’t understand half the meaning of. She listened to the conversation and she had to admit that she sometimes felt a bit shocked about the language and the strange humor that existed among the Lynx people. She had a great sense of humor herself but these people’s jokes were just too much for her. They were practically insulting each other every now and then but it was all done in a good mood and often with smiles and laughs. She had never heard this sort of conversation between the crewmembers on Voyager. These people really have a strange sort of humor, she thought, but maybe it’s their way to stand the pressure they are going through. Then Novak took a cup and walked towards the table where Kes were sitting.

”Hi,” he said and sat down at the table. ”I hope that you have slept well. Unfortunately, this is not a first-class hotel but we try to do our best for our honored guests. ”No, that was OK. I really did sleep well,” Kes said. Novak started to talk about the base and it’s environments and Kes was a little surprised over how this man, who she yesterday had taken for a bandit, so totally changed his manners when he was talking to her. Now he seemed to be very polite, almost a bit shy. She began to wonder who the real person behind the tough shell was. ”Tell me about yourself!” she interrupted him. ”How do you end up in this part of space?” ”Hmm, that’s a long story,” said Novak, a bit hesitating. ”Tell me, who are you really?” she asked curiously. ”Do you have any family back on Earth?” she asked, ”and how come that you joined the Maquis? Now it’s your turn to tell a story!” she said eagerly. Novak looked down and seemed a bit shaken by Kes’s almost childlike questions but after a while he slowly started to talk.

”I don’t have much of a family, he said with a moody look. ”I once had a girlfriend,” he continued slowly. ”She lived on one of the planets near the Cardassian border. She was killed when the Cardassians raided the planet. That’s why I joined the Maquis,” he said with sadness in his voice. Kes could see the pain in his eyes and regretted that she had asked him about his earlier life. ”I wanted revenge,” he continued. Before all this I had dabbled with a lot of different jobs and learned a lot about computers and by that time I was working for a government-own company who installed computer systems in various parts of the Federation space. So I had some contacts that could be useful. I got in touch with my old friend Mike, who actually had been in the Starfleet once; we gathered this bunch of people and joined the Maquis. And we really gave the Cardassians a hard time.” He took a sip from the coffee-cup and continued: ”But after a while I got tired about this meaningless killing and destroying. It didn’t lead to anything. At that point we had both the Cardassians and the Federation against us and I was planning to leave the whole circus. Our last mission should have been an attack on a Cardassian convoy together with other Maquis ships. But it was a trap, set up by the Federation. One of our agents, Ro Laren who was stationed on Starship Enterprise warned us in the last minute. So the Maquis ships got away in time. Our ship got to the Badlands when suddenly this energy-wave transported us to the other end of the Galaxy.” ”The Caretaker!” said Kes in an excited voice. ”Yes, I thought about it yesterday when you told us your story. We must have been close to your homeworld then and all this must have happened some time before Voyager came there. But alien vessels attacked us, probably those Kazons you mentioned and we fled. We tried to stay away from habited planets as much as possible because later we had an encounter with some really disgusting beings. They killed two of my crewmembers and stole parts of their bodies. After that we became almost paranoid when we encountered a planet or spaceship.” ”That must have been the Viidians,” said Kes. ”We had some problems with them too.” Novak continued his story: ”After some time the supplies were almost finished and the situation became difficult. Then suddenly we found a wormhole! We were hoping that it would lead us back to Federation space but instead we ended up not so far from this part of space. Some days later we encountered the Famsters. We were expecting the worst but they proved to be very friendly. They told us about their conflict with the Taras and wanted weapons and technology in exchange for food. They also wanted us to help them to defend themselves. First we didn’t want any part of their war and I wouldn’t dare to give them our technology. But after seeing how bestial the Taras acted, we decided to stay as long as we could to help the Famsters, at least until they could defend themselves without our help. And here we are now.” Novak sighed. ”That’s the story of my life. Every time I try to do something good and every time I try to help someone I end up in a total mess.”

”There’s nothing wrong in trying to help those who need help.” Kes said. ”And I’m still very grateful that you helped me yesterday.” Novak nodded ”Well-” He was thinking about something decent to say to this stunning, beautiful girl but for once he was stuck. Kes noticed that and changed subject: ”I’m sure that we will find Voyager,” she said. ”Then you can join our crew and follow us back to Earth.” ”You seem pretty sure that we will find Voyager,” said Novak. ”They can be over 1000 light years away. Who knows where they are.” ”I know that we will find them,” Kes said. And then she told Novak about her encounter with Q and the Ocampa mental powers which she had used against the guard at the pirate base, the powers that she still had something left of. First she thought that Novak should just shake his head in disbelief or come up with some of his usual funny comments but when she had finished her story he looked at her, very serious. ”You know, he said slowly, ”there are some things in this Universe who are very difficult to explain. I have had some weird experiences too and I believe that it is some meaning behind all this.” ”I’m sure there is” Kes said softly. Novak looked at her as if he suddenly was thinking of something very important. ”Do you think that your Captain, - Railway?” Novak said with a mischievous grin, ”Janeway” corrected Kes. Sometimes she found Novak’s humor and tendency to come up with funny remarks a little annoying. ”Hmm, sorry, Janeway, that your Captain Janeway will accept us?” he asked. ”I’m sure she will,” replied Kes. ”She accepted Chakotay and the others, remember,” Kes said. ”I’m sure that you and your friends will be welcomed as a good reinforce for the Voyager crew.” ”You seem to have a great faith in this Captain Janeway.” Novak said with a smile. ”I really have” said Kes. ”She’s one of the finest living beings I ever met.” ”Well, if you say so I believe it,” said Novak. ”And I’m sure that some of my friends can do a lot for Voyager. I have never been in Starfleet but I do know something about computers and how they work. I have another crewmembers that really is a computer expert, he’s the best one I’ve ever seen. Mike is an ex-Starfleet, he will be of great use and Sonny, despite his stupid jokes, is a great engineer. You can’t find a better one.” ”Except for B’Elanna Torres” said Kes. ”Who?” asked Novak and Kes explained. ”I think I know who she is. I know that Chakotay had some half-Klingon girl among his crew but I’ve never spoken to her. In fact, I’ve never really trusted the Klingons.” He shrugged his shoulders. ”But I think that I have to change my opinion, once again” he said with a resigned smile. ”And-” he said and looked Kes deep in her eyes, ”there’s something I want to tell you but-” ”Well, what it is” said Kes, a little curious. ”Well- I think you’re the most beautiful and lovely girl I ever seen in my whole life and I-” He was interrupted by Mike who came rushing into the mess hall. The look on his face could only mean one thing. Trouble!

 

 

Chapter 11

They arrived to the Praetor’s Palace, a great building in the middle of the capital. It reminded Janeway about some similar buildings she had seen on Earth. When they embarked the vehicle, an orchestra started to play. ”Really imposing” said Neelix who seemed to have got his ability to speak back again. ”They really know how to receive guests.” ”Maybe they will erect a statue over you too” said Paris. ”Well, to be really honest, on Talaxia, they actually planned-”  ”Please, be quiet,” interrupted Janeway. ”There’s no time for jokes now”. They marched up to the entrance where they were received by the tall, bald-headed General Gul and some other Tara officials, including a woman. ”Welcome, honored guests! Welcome to the Praetor’s Palace!” said General Gul. ”It’s a great honor to have you here! This,” he said and bowed towards the woman, ”this is Garda, our beloved Leaders wife, our First Lady. The woman, who had short hair and old-fashioned glasses looked at Janeway as if she expected that Janeway should kneel in front of her. Janeway took the challenge by marching up to the woman, salute and then introducing herself: I’m Kathryn Janeway, Captain on the Starship Voyager from the United Federation of Planets. It’s a great honor to be here.”  ”I’m Garda, the beloved and respected Praetors wife,” the woman answered. Janeway then introduced the others. ”Oh, I’m so happy that you are here!” said the woman and smiled but the smile didn’t reach her eyes. ”My loved husband, the great Praetor Attala is also very happy that you have come all the long way from your homeworld just to see him and learn about our world. Come with me! You will soon meet him in person!

They were guided round into the palace and all the way the woman talked. Janeway began to find her even more tiring than their former guide, Ezel. All the way she talked about what a humble and kind person her husband, the great Leader was. Finally they came to a large conference room. The woman turned to Janeway and said: ”This must be the happiest day in your life!” ”Well, I don’t know”, said Janeway with some hesitation. ”But you are going to meet him!” said the woman. Everybody who meets the Leader says that it is the happiest days in his or her lives. Some people even start to write poetry about it. I’m sure that you will remember this day with gratefulness all your life!” Janeway tried to smile at the talkative woman but she found it hard to pretend some fondness for this blatant cult of one single person. Then they were shown to their respective placing at the long table. After about ten minutes of total silence, the doors opened and he entered the room.

The Great Praetor looked at Janeway and smiled. ”I am Attala, Praetor of the Tara Empire. Welcome to our glorious Palace. Janeway and the other Voyager crew raised from the table and Janeway introduced herself and the other members of her delegation. The Praetor looked at them one by one. He looked a particularly long time on Neelix and Janeway began to fear that Neelix in some way looked like some of the Tara’s enemies. Then he turned to Chakotay and blurted. ”Why are you painted in the face?” Janeway could only admire Chakotay’s calm when he looked the dictator in the eyes and answered: ”It’s not paint, it’s a tattoo. It is a symbol for my tribe on Earth.” ”Ah!” the dictator said, with his finger on his temple, ”Ah!” Then he turned to Janeway. ”I heard that you want to buy food supplies from our rich and prospering gardens. Is that true?” ”Yes”-answered Janeway. ”We are in urgent need of food supplies for our long journey home.” ”That can be arranged if we get some of your technology in return. We are particularly interested in this beaming technology that you demonstrated this morning and your weapons system. We are at war and we need better weapons to defeat our enemies.” ”I’m afraid that it’s impossible,” Janeway answered. ”We have laws who forbid us to sell technology to other civilizations and who also forbid us to interfere in conflicts between states or planets.” The Praetor stared at her. ”Ridiculous!” he blurted to the people in the room as he banged his fist onto the table. Then he looked at Janeway again. ”Tell me about your so called Federation” he said. Chakotay replied in Janeway's place. He explained in short how the Federation functioned, about the different races and species that lived in the Federation and about Federation laws and life in common. This is incredible, he thought. Here I am, an ex-Maquis, holding a lecture about the Federation in front of a crazy, megalomaniac dictator. The dictator listened. ”Your Federation must have a strong leader,” he said. ”A leader like me!” Janeway started carefully to explain the democratic principles the Federation was ruled by but was interrupted by the Praetor. ”It can’t work!” he said. ”It will fell apart sooner or later. It would certainly not function in this part of Universe. Here we must have strong, powerful leaders like me, leaders with visions and the knowledge of what is best for the people!”

Then he stood up in front of them and started to speak, as if he was addressing a mass meeting. ”When I came to power here many years ago, this world was a total mess. But I have personally rebuilt it with my great plans and splendid ideas. The people, who love me have helped me to fulfil my great mission. And now, we have made progress in all areas and our gardens are prospering.” ” Eh, Mr. Praetor, according to your lovely gardens,” Neelix started to say, apparently in an urgent need to prove that he also was an important member of the delegation with right to speak, ”our food supplies-” Quiet!” bellowed the dictator and glared at Neelix. ”Don’t you dare to interrupt the great Attala when he is speaking!” Janeway looked at poor Neelix who looked like someone had thrown a bucket of cold water in his face. The dictator continued to speak: ”We have expanded our territory in all directions in this part of the Universe and we are respected by all people and races. But some time ago we encountered a race called the Famsters. These blue-faced crawling, disgusting reptiles wouldn’t accept our glorious plans for creating a prospering Federation”, he said the last word with a sneer, ”in this place in Universe. They started to work against us and fight us! Us, he mighty Taras, led by me, the great Praetor! Those barbaric monsters has committed the worst atrocities against our people that ever been made. They slaughter women and children and kill everyone they see. They are nothing but animals! Our superior space-fleet would have wiped them out a long time ago but they have got some help from a band of pirates and murderers from another part of space who have given them technology superior to ours. We have also had some problems with traitors on our own planet who work against my glorious plans. That’s why we need better technology! So that we can defeat those monsters that are trying to disturb the good order I’ve created. But it doesn’t matter if you and your so-called Federation are unwilling to sell this technology to us. We will defeat our enemies, despite that. We will win!” The dictator caught his breath for some seconds and stared at the others round the table. Then he started to speak again. ”Today I got a report that the Famster pigs and their bandit friends wiped out a friendly trading station in another part of this sector. But their time is out! Today I have given General Gul orders to mobilize our armada. We will attack their homeworld and totally destroy it. The victory they won yesterday will be their last victory ever before we crush them for good!”

Then the dictator finished his speech by banging his fist onto the table. All the members of the Tara Supreme Council who were there, including the Leaders wife rose to their feet and cheered. Tom Paris looked at Janeway with horror and whispered: ”Holy cow! He’s totally insane!” Janeway was stunned. She was fully aware of the danger in the situation. Who knows what this maniac will do if we don’t want to sell the technology he wants, she thought. It felt good to know that she could contact Tuvok on Voyager in one second and that he could beam them up immediately, if necessary. The dictator raised his hand. ”Quiet!” he screamed and the members of the Council stopped immediately to cheer and applaud. Then he turned to Janeway again, smiling. ”I’m sure that we will find some agreement about exchange during the evening”, he said with a friendly smile. ”Now we will go to the Stadium.” The dictator marched through the room and the others followed like a schoolclass. Once again Janeway and the others was placed in the vehicle an then they took off for the stadium.

 

Chapter 12

Kes stared at the screen in front of her. They were back in space, heading for Vetifer, the Famsters Homeworld. As expected, Mike had had bad news. According to reports from the Famster spies, the Praetor of Tara was planning a full-scale attack on the Famsters. Now the spaceship Lynx was on its way to the Famster Homeworld to help the Famsters to plan a counter-attack. Kes had decided to go with the Lynx despite Novak and Mike’s protests that she should stay on the base. She didn’t want to sit and wait in total uncertainty and she also had a feeling that they soon would encounter Voyager. She looked at the people around her who seemed calm despite the fact that they probably should face the Tara’s entire fleet. ”Can we really stop them?” she asked Novak. ”Our ship is a lot better in all areas than theirs but they will be many of them and you never know”, he answered. ”What will happen if the Taras capture you? she asked anxiously. ”They cut my head off,” said Novak as calm as if he were talking about a simple medical treatment. ”They will remove all our heads from our bodies. Yours too, because you are here with us. Or they treat you worse than that.” He never finished the sentence but Kes realized what he meant and felt scared. ”Are they that cruel?” she asked. ”Yes, they have a reputation for treating their prisoners very cruel. They kill them or put them into slave-camps where they must work until they die. And believe me, our Famster friends can be cruel too. They are incredibly nice to those they regard as their friends but they can be terrible to their enemies. I’ve seen it myself. There have been many times when my crew have had to stop the Famsters from killing the Tara prisoners.” ”What do you do with your prisoners?” asked Kes. She wanted to be sure that her friends in no way were involved in brutal, meaningless killing. ”First we just let them go because we have no resources to take care of prisoners in a larger scale on our base. But then we found out that a lot of them were executed as traitors when they got back to Tara. According to Tara laws everyone who surrenders to the enemy is a traitor. So we have tried to put them in prison camps on remote planets in the Famster Empire where they are put at work. But there’s always the risk that the Famsters take out some revenge on them. And if we don’t stop the Tara’s they will kill the Famsters and us too. How I hate it all!” Kes looked at him and she felt sad about this man and his friends who were lost in this Quadrant, exactly like Voyager were, and who apparently didn’t wanted to be involved in this war. ”If we meet, I mean when we meet Voyager then it will be over” said Kes calmly and looked Novak in the eyes. ”Then you can go home.” ”Yes, but first we have to stop the invasion. I promised to help these people,” he said and pointed at Oldric who had listened to their conversation with a worried look on his pale-blue face. I can’t just abandon them and run away like a coward. If we can stop the invasion, it will give the Famsters some time to build new and better ships than they have now. But we must stop the invasion first!

They arrived in the capital of Vetun and were immediately taken to the Presidential Palace. There Amon, Oki and a lot of Famsters that Kes had met earlier received them. The small Famsters were very happy to see their ”Golden Lady” again. They gathered around Kes and showed their happiness over that she’d been rescued and explained to her how happy they were to have her back again. It was a funny sight, the short, pale-blue-faced Famsters who were almost dancing around her, trying to pat her hands and arms as they always did when they wanted to show friendliness, and their instant talk in their strange voices. ”Oh dear, it looks like something from a fairy-tale, the Princess and the elves!” said Novak, almost laughing at the funny sight. ”Soon she’ll start writing autographs for them,” said Mike. ”I wonder why they never greet me like that,” Sonny said. ”I would love to be that idolized” ”You’re too ugly and too mean.” said Novak. The both men started a fierce exchange of funny comments about each other but were interrupted by Mike who said. ”Try to behave yourselves for once, you dummies, we will meet the President!” Soon they were sitting round a large round table together with the superior Famsters. ”The situation is serious”, a rather tall Famster said. He was apparently their Starfleet Commander. ”We have got reports that the dictator of Tara has mobilized his armada and that we can expect them here in just a few days. He looked around and said with an even more worried voice. ”We have also been told that an alien spaceship, large as a city is orbiting Tara and that their commander is negotiating with the dictator. Novak and Mike both looked at Kes who blurted out ”It’s Voyager! It must be! I knew they would be around here somewhere!” There was a silence and then everybody started to whisper with each other. The president Amon looked first at Novak and Mike, then at Kes and asked. ”Are they your people and what are they doing in the Tara capital?” Are they going to join forces with the dictator against us?”  ”No”, said Kes firmly. “The Federation has laws which forbids them to interfere in conflicts between others. And besides that, Captain Janeway would never be fooled by some megalomaniac dictator.” She said that with determination.  ”Maybe they will help us instead, said Oki, the Prime Minister. ”I don’t think so,” said Novak. Their laws forbid them to interfere. But when we’ll find them I will do my best to persuade them to do at least something to help your cause. ”But you helped us,” a Female Famster said to Novak. ”Why can’t they do it?” ”Because they are Starfleet and we are not. We don’t feel bound by their laws and restrictions in this case when it’s about to help a people in deep need. In fact, we have committed a crime against the Federation laws. We have violated the Prime Directive who forbids Federation citizens to interfere in wars between other planets and to sell or give our technology to other planets. But never mind. We got to do something about this situation now.” ”If I understand this situation correct, I believe that Voyager will not stay long at the Tara homeworld,” said Mike. ”In fact, I think that they will leave pretty soon when they find out what’s going on there. So I suggest that we take the Lynx and go out there and meet them. We’ll still have time to come back before the armada is here. ”That’s my opinion too,” said Novak. He stood up and started to walk towards the exit. ”C’mon Kes, he said. ”Now we’ll find your friends!”

 

 

Chapter 13

When they entered the gigantic stadium, Neelix grabbed Janeway’s arm. ”C-Captain!” he stammered, ”I don’t like this at all. I would suggest that we beam up to Voyager immediately. I’m sure that something unpleasant will happen here soon.” ”I agree with Mr. Neelix” Chakotay said. ”I also have bad feelings about this event.” ”Me too, admitted Janeway. But it would be stupid just to run away. I want to see what they are up too.” She suddenly stopped at a corner in one of the corridors and tapped her commbadge. ”Janeway to Voyager! Mr. Tuvok!” Tuvok's voice came immediately, calm as usual. ”Tuvok here!” ”I want you to be very alert up there and beam us up immediately if I tell you to do so. I have a feeling that something very unpleasant is going to happen here soon,” said Janeway. ”By the way, are we still guarded by their spaceships?” ”Yes, answered Tuvok. They are ten of them surrounding us. They have their shields up but no hostile moves so far. Their Flight Commander informed us that it is for our protection” Tuvok said. ”I can see that.” Janeway said. She fully understood what kind of protection the Tara ships were given them. ”Keep an eye on them but don’t raise the shields or do anything that they will see as a hostile maneuver from our side. And keep a lock on us. We may need a transport from this planet soon enough.” ”Don’t worry Captain!” It was B’Elanna Torres voice this time. ”One word from you and I will beam you up faster than a Cardassian violates a peace treaty.” ”Good, Janeway out!”

The energetic Ezel, their guide, was a bit irritated that Janeway and the others had stopped and hid behind a corner. ”Come on now,” he commanded with an irritated look on his face, ”you’ll be late for the celebration!” Apparently they had delayed the Leaders entrance with some minutes. They were now hurried to their seats at the VIP lounge where they were seated next to the Leaders wife. Janeway looked out over the stadium. It was a gigantic stadium and there were about 100 000 people gathered there. At one end, behind the standings she could see the occasional portrait of the Leader. But what surprised her was the sports field itself. It was almost empty. No goals, nets or baskets. No markings or lines on the grass. Just a block of wood, standing in the middle of the field. And so an orchestra somewhere started to play and the dictator entered. He started to walk down the stairs to his place in the open VIP lounge. When the dictator entered the whole audience raised to its feet and an enormous roar filled the stadium: ”At-ta-la, At-ta-la, At-ta-la!” ”Now you really can see how loved he is” shouted the leaders wife Garda in Janeway’s ear. ”They really love him! Isn’t it wonderful!” Janeway just looked at the woman. She seemed to be as devoted to the cult of the Leader as anybody else they had met on this planet.

The Leader marched to his throne where a microphone was placed. There he stood up and waived his hand. All of a sudden the whole audience was quiet. ”This is the Leader speaking!” he bellowed. The audience rose to its feet again and started to chant: ”At-ta-la!” ”Quiet!” bellowed the dictator and all of a sudden the whole place went quiet again. The dictator continued: ”I’m now opening my mouth to speak and I speak as follows: Today is a great day! I have here by my side some honored guests from a planet system far away called the United Federation of Planets. They have an advanced technology, almost as advanced as ours, and they have promised me that they will help us to crush the Famster reptiles and their evil Lynx friends! The audience roared and Janeway looked with horror in her eyes at General Gul. ”What the hell is he talking about!” she screamed in anger at the General. ”I’ve never given such a promise!” ”Calm down” said Garda, the dictator’s wife and patted Janeway’s hand. ”He’s just saying so because he wants the people to love you too,” she said with a smile. ”He really cares for you too, he is so nice and kind. There is no more kind person in the whole Universe!” Janeway was seething but she decided to stay calm as long as possible. It could be dangerous to challenge the dictator here in front of all these people. The dictator continued: ”Today I have also given General Gul orders to mobilize our armada. In a couple of days we will attack the Famsters and crush them. We will kill those crawling blue reptiles,” he screamed. ”All of them! And we will destroy their homeworld and all their colonies and bases. There will be nothing left of them. They will get what they deserve for challenging the Praetor!” Once again the audience roared. ”Quiet!” The dictator continued: ”I have also another great news, the main reason why I have gathered you here, my true people. Some days ago my clever Chief Of Security, Colonel Jekov revealed a sinister plot among some traitors to murder me, your beloved Praetor, and sell us all to our enemies. The traitors have been captured and now they will get their punishment for challenging your beloved Attala!”

The audience roared and then started to chant. ”De-ca-pi-Tate, de-ca-pi-Tate!” Chakotay gave Janeway a quick glance. What is going on? he thought. All of a sudden some people appeared on the sports-field. They were four soldiers, heavy armed. Between them walked, or stumbled three civilians, tied with ropes and chains. Last of all came a soldier with a great axe in his hands. The screams from the spectators grew louder. Janeway realized with horror what was going to happen. They were going to witness an execution! The Voyager crew looked at each other with horror in their eyes. They were shocked! This was just too much! ”We can’t let them do it, Captain,” said Chakotay. Janeway rose to her feet. ”No, we can’t and we won’t!” she said firmly. She marched up to the dictator. ”Stop it!” she said, her voice trembling with anger. ”You can’t execute these poor people. It’s barbaric!” The dictator looked at her, his finger on his temple in a phony gesture, as if he wondered what this creep was, who dared to challenge him. The dictator’s wife started to pull Janeway’s arm. ”How do you dare to questioning the beloved Attala’s orders? He must execute these traitors. They have gone against him. They must die!” Then the dictator himself started to talk to her, with ice on every syllable. ”You shall not come here and tell me, the beloved Attala, what I shall do. Sit down and shut up! If you’re not doing that it will be your turn when we are finished with those traitors.” ”Never!” said Janeway. She turned around and shouted at the other Voyager crewmembers. ”Come on!”  They rose from their seats and started to run out of the VIP lounge. Their former guide, Ezel tried to stop them but Chakotay knocked him with one single punch. They ran down the stairs, towards the field. Behind them they could hear the dictator scream. ”Stop them!”

They had the advantage of the surprise moment; Janeway realized when they reached the field. The Taras they had passed when they ran down the stairs had just stared at them, not understanding what was happening and the guards who stood at the end of the stairs were just standing there, surprised and not realizing what was going on. But the soldiers in the middle of the field who guarded the prisoners realized that it was an attempt to free the prisoners. They raised their heavy phaser-rifles when Janeway and the others came running towards them. Janeway drew her phaser and so did also Chakotay, Paris and Neelix. ”Stun them” Janeway ordered. They fired and the four soldiers fell to the ground. The soldier with the axe made an attempt to attack one of the prisoners but Paris stunned him with a shot from his phaser. They reached the prisoners and Janeway shouted: ”We will help you!” But now the Taras had realized what was going on. Hundreds of people was running into the field, screaming and firing at them and the crowd seemed to be in total uproar. She turned around and saw Neelix fire at the soldiers who had ran after them from the standings and now were very close. Then she heard the dictator’s voice booming out from the stadiums gigantic loudspeakers: ”The foreign bandits are enemies of the Tara and your Leader! Kill them! They shall not challenge my power!” She tapped her commbadge and shouted: ”Torres! Lock in on our commbadges! Seven to beam up! Immediately!” They heard the sound from the transporter beam and they dematerialized just some seconds before beams from several phasers crossed the air where they just had stood.

”What happened?” asked B’Elanna Torres when Janeway and the others materialized in the transporter room. She looked with surprise at the three tied Taras. ”We’ve had some trouble down there, I’ll explain it all later” said Janeway. She turned to Neelix. ”Mr. Neelix, release the Taras and take them to sickbay. ”Yes, Captain,” said Neelix in his typical manners. ”Mr. Chakotay, Mr. Paris! To the bridge!” Then she tapped her commbadge and addressed Tuvok on the bridge. ”Mr. Tuvok, red alert! Shields up!” They could hear the siren when they entered the elevator.

”The Taras are hailing us!” said Tuvok when they entered the bridge. ”On screen” replied Janeway. Then General Gul appeared on the screen. ”What have you done!” he screamed with intonation on every word. ”The Leader is furious! Is this how you repay his benevolent hospitality?” Janeway tried to say something but the General continued to scream: ”What you have done is an act of war against the Tara Empire and our beloved Praetor. You must surrender immediately! Otherwise our fleet will wipe you out! Then she heard Harry Kim’s voice: ”They are firing!” The ship shook when phaser beams and torpedoes from the Tara ships hit it. ”Shields down at 80 percent! said Harry Kim.” Mr. Paris, take us out of here!” said Janeway. ”Yes Ma’am!” replied Paris. ”Starting evasive maneuver Delta 1.” Voyager moved quickly out of the range of the Tara ships bur Janeway knew that the Tara ships would attack again. And so they did. Once again the ship shook when the Tara phasers hit their target. ”Shields down at 70 percent!” she heard Kim say. Then Voyager started to fire at the Tara ships. ”Their shields are holding.” She heard Tuvok say. Suddenly one of the Tara ships came against them. They could see it right in front, on the large screen. The Tara ship fired. Four white beams shoot out from the ship and Voyager shook when the phaser beams hit the shields. ”Shields down at 50 percent,” said Harry Kim. ”Damage on the hull and on deck 11 and 12 but no casualties so far!” But now Voyager fired back and the beams hit the Tara ship that suddenly slowed down. ”Stupid idiot,” Paris said, ”is he going to kill himself?” Suddenly the phaser fire from Voyager broke through the shields of the Tara ship. There was an explosion and all that was left of the Tara ship was debris. ”Direct hit. The Tara ship is destroyed.” Tuvok sounded almost like a computer. Janeway sighed with relief. Apparently, the shields of the Tara ships were not so strong after all. ”How can they act so stupid?” Chakotay said to Janeway.” He flew right into our fire!” The other Tara ships were a bit disorganized by the sudden, unexpected explosion and that was all that Voyager needed to break loose. ”We are ahead!” exclaimed Paris triumphantly. ”Full impulse speed” ordered Janeway. ”Janeway to engineering! Can we go to warp?” ” Not yet” answered B’Elanna Torres. ”We have some problems here! Give me ten minutes!” Voyager continued its zick-zack course away from the Tara homeworld with the nine Tara ships chasing them. The Tara ships were slower than Voyager but they had a potential firepower. One of the ships fired two torpedoes and Paris had to make a fast move to avoid them. Then finally, B’Elanna Torres voice came over the speakers: ”Ready to go to warp, Captain!” ”Thank you Lieutenant!” replied Janeway with a sigh of relief. And then the ship reached warp speed. The Tara ships tried to follow but they were much too slow. Voyager had finally got away.

 

 

Chapter 14

”Well, the dictator’s wife was right” Janeway said, sipping a cup of her beloved but hard-rationed coffee, ”this will be a day I’ll never forget.” ”Then maybe it’s time for you to write some poetry about it” said Chakotay with a grin. They felt relieved that they, once again had escaped happily from a dangerous situation. The damages on the ship were only minor ones and there had been no serious casualties among the crew. The worst wounded was, in fact, Neelix who had stumbled in the corridor outside sickbay, when he was following the liberated Tara prisoners there, and hit his head against the wall. That was close but we managed to make it this time too, Chakotay thought. Now they could relax and clear the air with some jokes. ”Well, I don’t think I will visit Tara on my next vacation,” Paris said. ”I didn’t really like their entertainment.” ”I think neither of us did”, said Janeway. ”So what are we doing now?” asked Chakotay. ”Frankly, I don’t know right now.” answered Janeway. First I will have a word with the Tara prisoners we rescued and then we’ll see. But I have a feeling that we haven’t seen the end of this story yet.” She looked around the bridge where everything was back to normal. ”I’m going down to sickbay to have some words with those Taras. Then maybe I’ll get some useful information about what is going on in this sector. Now when we can’t buy any supplies from the Taras we must find another planet where we can refill our food supplies. Otherwise we are in real trouble.” She looked at Chakotay. ”Mr. Chakotay, you have the bridge!”

She entered the sickbay where the Doctor just was examining one of the three liberated Tara prisoners. When Janeway entered he left the patient and turned to her. ”They have been severely beaten and haven’t got food for several days but despite that they are in good condition,” said the Doctor, buzzing around the patients in his usual way. The three Taras looked with astonishment at him. They had been almost shocked when the holographic program started and he materialized in front of their eyes and now they looked at the Doctor with fright in their eyes as he moved around them with his tricorder. His somewhat brusque methods and way of talking didn’t ease up the situation particularly. Even if the Doctor had developed his manners since they first activated him once upon the time, he was still a bit too brusque for many patients. Janeway could understand the Taras. Neelix was also there, with a bump on his forehead, trying to encourage the Taras by telling stories about how they had fooled the dictator and his mighty fleet. When Janeway entered he started to complain. ”Did you really have to shake the ship the way you did? It almost killed me,” he said and pointed at the bump on his forehead. ”I’m sorry, Mr. Neelix,” Janeway said but sometimes it’s necessary with some shaking. Don’t worry; it’s just a bump. You will be fine.” Then Janeway looked at the Taras. Two of them were men, about middle age and the third was a woman about the same age. ”I’m Luni,” said one of the Taras, ”this is my wife Ela and this is my colleague Stran.” ”I am Captain Janeway of the Federation Starship Voyager. Please tell me why they tried to execute you.”

”Once we were members of the Tara Parliament” Luni said, ”and we were devoted followers of the Praetor. We believed, when he came to power, that he would create a glorious society, better than we have had before. At that time he seemed to be an honest, hard-working politician who wanted the best for us all. But after some years we began to doubt what was going on. We saw how the Praetor wasted money and resources on unnecessary projects in and around the capital just to brag for eventual visitors from other planets while the rest of the planet was practically starving. We saw how more and more resources were used for military purposes and how our empire expanded by threats and war against our neighbors. And we saw how every invention was used only to secure the power of the Praetor. So we slowly began to question the actual politics on Tara. But to question the Praetors orders is prohibited. So we were thrown out of the parliament and jailed. They didn’t kill us then because we had been good friends with the Praetor and his relatives. Instead we were deported to a small village on another continent where the Praetor hoped that we would starve to death. But we managed to survive. Then came the war with the Famsters. And when the Praetor needed scapegoats for the failed war and the heavy losses, they arrested us and made up this story about a complot against the Praetor.”

”Tell me about your enemies, the Famsters,” said Janeway. ”We don’t know much about them. We only know that they live in a sector of space far away from our territory and that they didn’t wanted to be integrated in our Glorious Empire”, Luni said this with disgust in his voice. ”We have learned that they are monsters and sadists, half-reptiles with blue faces who kill every Tara they can catch. They beat them to death or choke them.” ”Is it true?” asked Janeway.” I don’t know,” said Luni. ”First we believed it but now we don’t know.” ”According to the Praetor, the Famsters have some powerful allies,” said Janeway. ”Tell me about them!” ”We know even less of them. They come from far away and no Tara have seen them in real life and survived. We have only seen pictures of their leaders, copied from computers when they have hailed our ships.” He looked curious at Janeway. ”In fact, they look like you and your people, especially that one,” he said and pointed at Neelix who looked back, surprised. Can they be Talaxians? thought Janeway. ”They are long-haired and shabby and they are said to be even more blood-thirsty than the Famsters,” said Luni. ”Thank you!” said Neelix, apparently hurt by the Tara’s comments ”I save your lives and you compare me with shabby bandits and savages. Is that-” ”Thank you Mr. Neelix,” said Janeway. ”Then she turned to the Taras again. ”Right now I don’t know what to do with you. Is there any place where I can leave you where you can survive, some other inhabited planet with a friendly people?” ”Just don’t take us to the Famsters! They will kill us!” said the Tara. ”I’m not totally sure of that,” said Janeway with a smile. ”But I won’t take any risks. You can stay on our ship until we have solved all these problems.” ”Thank you” replied the Tara. ”You are very kind”. The Doctor then turned to Janeway. ”I would be very happy if some efforts were made to solve the problems I have here. Since Kes left I have had no qualified nurse and-” ”I will try to solve that problem as soon as possible” Janeway said ”but right now I must see what I can do to get us out of this peculiar situation. Mr. Neelix, come with me! I need you on the bridge.” ”Yes Captain!” answered Neelix and ran after her. She wanted Neelix out of sickbay to avoid any confrontation with the Doctor or the Tara patients but she didn’t say that to him.

 

Chapter 15

”Captain,” Harry Kim exclaimed. ”I’m picking up signs from a ship somewhere ahead of us! It’s approaching us with warp speed.” Janeway looked at the screen. After a while a small dot was visible, a small dot who slowly got bigger and bigger. ”Magnify!” Janeway said. Now she could see how the alien ship looked like. It was not a Tara ship, that was sure and definitely not a Talaxian ship. She saw Neelix look at the ship and shake his head. Could it be a Famster ship? she wondered. But their ships were as slow as the Taras, according to the information she had. She looked at the ship again. It looked familiar in some strange way. Then she discovered that both Chakotay and Paris had risen to their feet and stared, almost hypnotized at the foreign ship. ”What it is?” asked Janeway. ”I don’t believe this” said Paris and shook his head. ”It’s-” ”It’s a Maquis ship” said Chakotay. ”But how-?” Then Harry Kim shouted with excitement in his voice: ”The lifesigns on the ship! I have scanned it. They are humans! Almost all of them!” They looked at each other with astonishment. A Maquis ship with humans here in the Delta Quadrant. How could that be possible? ”They are hailing us, Captain.” Tuvok's calm voice brought them back to reality. ”Open a channel,” ordered Janeway. ”This is Bohumil Novak, Supreme Commander of the Intergalactic Starship Lynx. We are greeting Captain Janeway at the Federation Starship Voyager! Please open a visual channel.” Janeway looked at Chakotay. ”Who is that and how does that person know who’s in command of this ship?” she asked. ”Novak!” said Chakotay, shaking his head, ”how the. -?” Then the screen blinked and Novak’s face was visible. Janeway stood up and looked at the somewhat shabby figure on the screen: ”I’m Captain Kathryn Janeway of the Federation Starship Voyager” she said. ”Who are you and how do you know my name?” ”As I told you, I’m Bohumil Novak, Supreme Commander of the Intergalactic Starship Lynx.” And then he smiled and looked at Chakotay. ”Hello Chakotay, you old Maquis-pirate, how y’er doing!” Then he looked at Paris, ”Hi Tom!” Janeway felt a bit annoyed over the man’s somewhat rude manners. ”Now what is a Maquis ship doing in this part of space?” asked Janeway, ”and why are you involved in the war between the Taras and the Famsters?” ”This, my dear Captain, is a long story, a bit similar to yours. I would like to tell it to you and my old friends Chakotay and Paris, maybe over a pint of beer.” said Novak with an even broader smile. ”Well, there are indeed some things I would like to discuss with you. So I suggest that you beam over to my ship immediately. I guarantee that I will not arrest you or harm you in any other way.” ”To be honest”, Novak said in his mischievous way, ”I would really like to visit Voyager. I have heard so much about this wonderful ship from a very reliable source. But right now I would like to suggest that you, Captain and Mr. Chakotay and Mr. Paris would beam over to my ship. Because I have a little surpriiiize for’ya! Novak out!”

”Who is that joker and how come that he’s so well-informed about us?” asked Janeway sternly, looking at Chakotay and Paris who both shook their heads. ”Novak,” said Chakotay again. ”I knew him in the Maquis. A friendly, nice guy but with a strange temper and strange humor. His ship was missing after a raid against a Cardassian convoy and they were all supposed to be dead but-” ”I used to hang around with him during my brief stint with the Maquis” said Paris. ”I liked him. A nice guy who liked to have a beer, a laugh and a good time.” ”Now I also remembered that he had named his Maquis ship the Lynx but I would never have imagined that they should reappear in this part of space,” Chakotay said. ”Can we trust him?” asked Janeway, ”or can this be some sort of trap? ”No I don’t think it’s a trap. This guy is a bit strange but he’s honest, at least as I remember him. And by the way, he is in no position to threat us. We can wipe out his ship without problem any minute, and he knows that.” said Chakotay. ”So if the mountain doesn’t come to Mohammed, then Mohammed must go to the mountain,” declaimed Janeway with a smile. ”OK, let’s go to the transporter room. Mr. Tuvok! Keep a lock on us, just in case” said Janeway.

There was the familiar wheezing from a transporter beam and then they materialized on a bridge, much smaller and more primitive than the one on Voyager Right in front of them stood the man called Novak with a mysterious smile on his lips. ”Welcome Captain Janeway” he said politely. He shook her hand and bowed. ”It’s really a great pleasure to have you here.” Then he turned to Chakotay and Paris: ”It’s really good to see you two again. It’s been a long time.” ”Well It’s good to see you, Novak” said Paris and smiled. ”You really haven’t changed, have you” said Paris. ”Not a chance.” answered Novak and turned to Chakotay who smiled and shook his hand. Then Novak turned to Janeway again. ”Dear Captain, let me introduce my crew to you. This” he said and pointed at a man with a moustache standing a bit behind him, is Mike, my Second In Command. And this is my crew. ”He pointed at a bunch of tough-looking figures standing tight together in a corner. Janeway looked at them and noticed to her surprise that three of them were women and another one was a short humanoid with a pale-blue face and orange hair. One of the Famsters? she thought. She could also see that the tight-packed bunch of people in some way tried to hide something behind them in the corner. What the hell is going on here? Janeway wondered. ”And now,” said Novak, a bit dramatically  ”I would like you to meet a very special person who really have looked forward to see you!” He waived his hand in a very exaggerated theatrical gesture at the gathered crew who parted and then Kes stepped forward with a big smile on her lips. ”Hello Captain,” she said in her deep, calm voice. The effect on Janeway, Chakotay and Paris was as if someone had stunned them with a phaser. They just stood there and couldn’t move. For the first time in her life, Janeway was totally speechless. Kes, of all persons. Kes who they thought that they had lost forever. Janeway finally tried to speak. ”Kes? Kes! Is that really you?” ”Yes Captain Yes Captain, it’s me. I’m back and I’m my old self again” answered Kes, still smiling. ”But how-?” ”Weren’t you transformed, didn’t you go back to Ocampa after you attacked our ship, what happened-?” ”It wasn’t me”, answered Kes, horrified about the thought that someone who looked like her had tried to destroy Voyager. “Then it must have been  a being from a mirror universe” Janeway said. “I always suspected that! But what happened to you and how did you end up on this Maquis ship?” asked Janeway. “It’s a long story and I will tell it later” said Kes. Then Janeway stepped forward and hugged her. ”My dear Kes,” Janeway said, almost with tears in her eyes. ”I’m so happy to see you again. We have really missed you.” ”I have missed you too, said Kes who also was deeply moved. Finally, she thought, finally I’m together with you again. Oh, how I have longed for this moment, she thought and she felt so happy. Then she walked up to Chakotay and Paris and hugged them both. Both of them had finally begun to function normally again and now they told her how happy they were to see her again. ” How are you Kes? What has happened?” asked Chakotay finally. ”Oh, it’s a long story but I’m alright, thanks to my friends here,” she said and pointed at the Lynx crew. ”You know,” said Paris, ”We have really missed you.” ”I have missed you too, ” said Kes. ”All of you!” Janeway finally wiped the tears off her eyes and looked at Novak and Mike who stood there grinning like schoolboys who have made a prank on the teacher. ”Well Captain, wasn’t that a surprise?” asked Novak. ”I love surprises like that!”

Janeway suddenly felt an urgent desire to hug the bandit-like figure that had brought back their beloved Kes to them. But then she got control of herself and became the effective Captain that she was most of the time. ”Thank you for bringing her back to us.” she said. ”She will come back to us, won’t she?” Janeway asked. She wasn’t sure what had been going on between Kes and these figures and if Kes perhaps planned to stay with this ex-Maquis crew. ”Of course” said Novak. ”And now I really would like to accept your invitation to visit Voyager.” said Novak, this time totally serious, without any of the irony he had showed earlier. ”I think we have some serious problems to discuss. Janeway smiled and tapped her commbadge. ”Mr.Tuvok! Six to beam up. We really have a surprise for all of you!”

Kes would never forget the reaction on the bridge when she appeared there together with Janeway, Chakotay, Paris and the two Lynx leaders Novak and Mike. Especially not Neelix’s reaction. The Talaxian just stared. Then he touched his head where the bump from the accident earlier was, as if the accident had given him hallucinations. Then he stared at Kes again who came against him and hugged him. Then Neelix finally realized that this was not a dream after all. ”Kes!” he whispered. ”Is that really you? But….” ”It’s really me.” Kes said smiling. ”But how…?” ”It’s a long story. I’ll tell it later.” “But you were so angry, I…” “No, Neelix,” Kes said calmly. “It was a being from another universe who tried to destroy the ship, not me. I would never dream to hurt anyone on this ship because you are all my friends” Kes said, still smiling happily. Then Neelix got control of himself surprisingly fast. ”Well, Kes, my dear.” he said. I will immediately go to the kitchen and make the finest meal I’ve ever made. This really needs some celebration. I’m so happy that you are here again! I thought I would never see you again, my dear.” Kes smiled happily. Even if their relationship had ended some time before Kes was forced to leave the ship they were still good friends and she was really happy to see Neelix again. Then she went up to Harry Kim and hugged him. Kim, who had totally missed that there was an Ocampan lifesign on the Lynx, had probably first now realized that Kes was back for real and said smiling: ”It’s really good to have you back with us again. Then she went up to Tuvok and hugged him. ”Tuvok!” she said. ”I’m so glad to see you again!” The Vulcan just raised his eyebrow and said: ”Welcome back Kes. It’s good to have you here again.” Janeway had studied Tuvok's reaction with great curiosity. She noted that the Vulcan indeed had raised his eyebrow a little more than usual when Kes materialized on the bridge but that he succeeded to keep his emotions under total control, well, at least almost total. If this won’t make Tuvok to show some emotions, nothing will, thought Janeway. Kes ran round the bridge, greeting and hugging everyone there and then she stopped and looked around with a happy smile on her face. It’s really true! she thought. I’m back on Voyager! Janeway smiled when she saw the happy smile on Kes’s face. It’s good to have her back, she thought. Then she turned to the two Lynx leaders who just stood there, totally forgotten by everyone, almost like some debris who someone had forgotten to take care of. ”I will let Kes show you the ship,” she said. ”Then we’ll meet in the conference lounge.”

 

Chapter 16

”I’m sorry Mr. Novak, but I can’t interfere in this conflict. It’s against the Prime Directive.” Janeway was sitting in the conference lounge together with Chakotay, Tuvok, Paris, B’Elanna Torres, Kes, Neelix and the two men from Lynx. She had followed Kes when she guided the Lynx men around the ship earlier. Kes had chirped like a little bird when she had guided them round and showed them everything of importance. The Doctor had, in fact, looked very surprised when Kes entered the sickbay but then really showed his gratitude. ”I really hope that you will stay on the ship this time” he said. ”I haven’t had any good nurses since you left.” I didn’t think that holograms had emotions, thought Janeway, especially not this one but maybe I’m wrong. A quick scan of Kes showed that the transformation who had started when she was going to leave the ship a long time ago had stopped and that the aging of her cells had slowed down. ”I don’t know what has happened but she will probably live until 80 or something like that. It looks like something has altered her structure total so that her genetic pattern is more like the humans now than the average Ocampa, ”said the doctor, almost surprised. ”I can’t explain it,” he said. Thanks, Q, thought Kes. She was planning to tell everybody the whole story later. Janeway had looked at the two Lynx men but they looked as they didn’t understand anything either. ”I’ll tell you later captain,” Kes finally said. In the meantime, the two Lynx men had shown a surprising interest for the Doctor and his functions and Janeway realized that behind the masks of carefree toughness there were two intelligent and calculating persons. They could be of good use on this ship, she thought. But now she was debating with them about if they should help the Famsters or not against the mad Praetor of Tara and his armada.” I’m sorry but this is enough. I’ve already came close enough to violate the Prime Directive when we liberated the Taras at the stadium and I will not do it again, I’m sorry.” They had already exchanged information about the events that handled them to this point. Kes and Novak had both told their respective stories and Janeway had told the Lynx men about how Voyager ended up in the Delta Quadrant. She had frowned when Kes mentioned her encounter with Q and that he was responsible for the changes in her body. ”I don’t like that he’s involved,” she said. ”Who knows what he will do.” On the other hand she had to admit that Q had helped Kes and shown benevolence she thought that Q didn’t have.

But now they had to solve the problems with the Tara-Famster conflict. ”But don’t you understand?” Novak asked desperately. ”The Taras will annihilate the Famsters without our help. I don’t care about any Prime Directive. This is a matter of life and death!” ”May I remind you Mr. Novak,” Tuvok interrupted in his calm voice, ”that you already have violated the Prime Directive several times by helping the Famsters fight a war. ”Mr.-ah. -Tuvok” Novak answered, with a surprisingly calm and polite voice, ”as I see it, I haven’t violated anything. I have never been in Starfleet, I’ve never signed any papers or treaties and I feel that I’m in no way bound by this law in this situation. And to be honest, I have nothing against laws, rules and regulations but sometimes you have to bend them and omit them, especially when it comes to saving lives. That’s the most important thing of all, to save others lives!”  To Janeway's chagrin, both Kes and Neelix who refereed to their experiences from earlier events supported Novak. ”The Lynx people saved me,” Kes said, ”and the Famsters were so friendly and showed so much hospitality to me when I crashed on their planet. We must do something to help them.” She looked at Janeway with her clear blue eyes.  Janeway felt bad over the situation. She could understand the points that the Lynx leaders came up with but it was impossible for her to break the Starfleet rules that she had swore to follow. ”I can see your point, Mr. Novak but it’s impossible for me to violate directives I have promised to follow. However I will meet with the Famster leaders and discuss the situation. Then we’ll see what we can do.”

The next day they reached the planet Vetifer, the Famster homeworld. Janeway, Chakotay, Tuvok, Kes and the two Lynx leaders had beamed down to the capital Vetun where the leading Famsters received them. Janeway was impressed by the city’s beauty and the warm and friendly attitude the Famsters showed their guests. What a contrast to Tara, she thought. She also felt a great sympathy for the old President Amon, who seemed to be a calm and reasonable person. But Novak warned her: ”They have a shifting temper and they can indeed be very aggressive if you try to debate with them.” That was true, she realized, when they discussed the dangerous situation in the Presidential Palace. None of the Famsters could or would understand Janeway's opinions. ”But why will you not help us?” Amon asked with anger in his voice. ”They did!” he said and pointed at the Lynx leaders. Janeway opened her mouth, trying once again to explain the content of the Prime Directive but was interrupted by Amon’s grandson, The Prime Minister Oki, who seemed to be the most aggressive of the leading Famsters. ”You and your bloody paragraphs!” he shouted. ”Are you just going to sit there and watch while we are involved in a fight about life and death with the Tara maniacs! How cynical can you be!”? ”I’m certainly not going to just sit and watch!” Janeway said, desperately trying to keep her calm. ”When the Tara ships arrives I will hail them and I will try to persuade them not to attack you. Then-” ”And you think that they will listen to that?” said a female Famster, whose name Janeway couldn’t remember. ”They will laugh at you and then they will attack!” And so the discussion continued. This is meaningless, thought Janeway. We’re not getting anywhere. ”If I can find a way to solve this I will do it,” Janeway finally said, ”but right now I have no answers. However, the Tara fleet will not be here until tomorrow. Maybe we have found a solution until then.” The conference ended but it had ended in a bad atmosphere and this had apparently affected the leading Lynx, Novak. He stamped up to Janeway with fury in his eyes. ”For the last time, Captain, you must help them!” ”I will do all I can to stop the Taras from invading this world but the Prime Directive forbid us to interfere in a war like this,” Janeway once again tried to explain. ”I don’t understand you Captain” said Novak and shook his head, ”I once got the impression that you were a good and fair person but obviously I was wrong. Well, then! We will fight the Taras by ourselves! C’mon” he barked at Mike and muttered some words that Janeway didn’t hear. ”Starfleet!” said Mike with an evil glance. Now you’ll see why I left them.” Novak turned around a last time, looked at Janeway, Chakotay and Tuvok, made a theatrical gesture with his arms and shook his head. Then he stormed out of the door with Mike in tow.

Kes had witnessed the whole discussion with a feeling of sadness and anger. She couldn’t believe that her beloved Captain Janeway, who she had always admired and also told the Lynx people so much good about, could do like this. She went up to Janeway, her eyes filled with tears and anger. ”Why, Captain? Why? Why will you not help these people?” Janeway sighed. ”How many times do I have to explain this?” she said. ”But they rescued me. Both the Famsters and the Lynx. And they would have done the same thing for you. We can’t let them down! We can’t!” ”Kes-” said Janeway in an attempt to make Kes listen. But Kes wouldn’t listen. Not this time. ”You will not help them? Then I will go with them” she said and continued with all the anger she felt in every word she said: ”I’ll rather die on the Lynx then stand on Voyager and watch when the Taras slaughter the Famsters and my friends!” Janeway tried to say something but Kes turned around and ran after the two Lynx leaders.

 

Chapter 17

Janeway sat in her ready room. She looked out of the window at the stars in a space were soon a giant battle would take place. She felt tired and worn. The situation was totally hopeless. If Voyager interfered it would be a violation to the Prime Directive that she had sworn to follow and which had always guided her during her Starfleet career. If Voyager didn’t interfere, it would be a battle with a lot of deaths and the Famster fleet would probably be defeated. Then the Tara Praetor would order the invasion of the Famster homeworld. She had heard the dictator’s promises that he should destroy the planet and kill the inhabitants. She couldn’t let it happen. But what could she do. She had had a long discussion with Chakotay and she knew that he would prefer to violate the Prime Directive this time. ”We can’t be that narrow-minded all the time,” he had said, ”sometimes we have to make our own decisions, and by the way, we are not in the Alpha Quadrant now. We are in the Delta Quadrant, facing a mad tyrant who wants to destroy a whole world and slaughter a whole people. If we let them do it we are as guilty as they are.” But still she hesitated. There must be some way we can solve this without violating the Prime Directive. She had also had a talk with the three fugitive Taras but they gave her no hope. ”Attala won’t back down,” they had said. ”Never! He have never compromised with anyone and he will not do it this time either,” Luni had said. ”If you try to interfere, the Tara fleet will attack Voyager too.

There was also the problem with Lynx. The stubborn Novak and his friends would rather die than abandon their Famster friends. And Kes was on the Lynx. Janeway knew that she couldn’t let Kes die on the Lynx. Not now when she is back with us again, she thought. Maybe we can go in and beam her and the Lynx people on board Voyager if the situation gets critical? But she knew that the Lynx people and Kes probably would only despise her after such an act. Janeway sighed. There was no way out of this. Or maybe it was? There was something in the back of her mind that she couldn’t focus on. Something that they had done once but she couldn’t get a clear grip on. It was like her mind was blocked. If I only had some more time, she thought. Then her thoughts were interrupted by Chakotay's voice.

”Chakotay to Janeway! The Tara fleet is approaching!” Janeway left her ready room and entered the bridge. On the screen she could see an enormous fleet of battleships approach. ”There must be hundreds of them,” Paris said. ”They are so many….” whispered Janeway and she felt as if a cold hand got hold of her heart. She could also see a smaller fleet approach from the other direction. The Famster ships. Among them, she knew was the Lynx. And there, on board it, was Kes! The Famster fleet was so much smaller than the Tara fleet. They were clearly outnumbered. ”Captain,” said Tuvok. I have counted. The Tara fleet will outnumber the Famster fleet with about 10 to 1. The chances in percent for the Famsters to win this battle is about-” ”Thank you, Mr. Tuvok, Janeway said. She just didn’t want to hear more. They continued to watch the screen. She noticed that Neelix had entered the bridge. He looked at Janeway, his eyes sadder then she had ever seen. He knows that Kes is out there, Janeway thought. If she gets killed then he probably will accuse me for the rest of his life. The silence on the bridge was almost mesmerizing. Suddenly Chakotay opened his mouth. ”Captain” he said, ”there must be something we can do. Janeway continued to look at the screen, desperately trying to find a solution. Chakotay is right, she thought. There must be something we can do but what? Then she started to think about something that had been somewhere in the back of her mind for a long time. Of course! she thought. We can do it! And exactly in the same second, B’Elanna Torres entered the bridge. ”Captain!” she said. ”I have an idea how we can solve this without really interfering!” Janeway and Torres looked at each other. Then they were both starting to smile. Obviously they had the same idea!

”Damn!” Novak shouted when the Lynx shook after a hit from a Tara phaser. The ship started to rock and the speed slowed down to only half of it’s normal. ”What’s wrong Sonny?” screamed Mike to the engineer. ”The port engine is not functioning” Sonny’s angry voice replied. ”Can you fix it?” asked Novak. ”Maybe, but you got to take us out of here.” said Sonny. ”I can’t fix it with all this shooting around my head!” The ship maneuvered away from the dangerous area. But everyone on board knew that it was just a temporary retreat.

The Lynx had led the attack on the Tara fleet and the former Maquis ship did have an advantage against the enemy. It was much faster, had better shields and better weapons. But the Tara ships were just too many. The Famster ships were equal to the Taras in speed, shields and weapons. But the Taras had their numerous advantages. They are too many, Novak thought. His colleague Mike was looking at the screen. He suddenly banged his fist on the console and started to swear. ”Damn it! They are too many. For everyone we take out there are at least five more.” He kicked furiously a piece of metal on the floor so that it flew away ant hit the wall with a terrible noise. Kes was sitting in the same seat as she had done when she was rescued from the slave trader Pjork and his pirates. She was scared but she didn’t want to show it. At least I did see my friends on Voyager again, she thought with sadness in her heart. She was still sad and angry over how Janeway and Voyager had let them down. But then this remarkable feeling came over her again. No, she thought. Janeway will not let us down. I’m sure she will find a solution. Then suddenly Novak came up to her. ”I will beam you over to Voyager as soon as we are in their reach,” he said. Kes looked at him. ”No!” she said firmly. ”But don’t you understand! This is dangerous. You can’t stay here. ”I’m staying here!” said Kes with intonation on every word. ”I will not leave!” ”You must be mad!” Novak shouted. ”You are even crazier than I am. You can’t…” Suddenly they were interrupted by a familiar voice over the loudspeakers: ”This is Captain Kathryn Janeway on the Federation Starship Voyager! I’m hailing the Tara fleet-”

Janeway stood in engineering, watching B’Elanna Torres and her crew make the final arrangements. ”I hope that everything will function,” she said. ”I don’t want to see the Doctor floating outside the ship as he did the first time we tried this.” ”Don’t worry Captain,” said B’Elanna Torres with a smile. ”This time nothing will go wrong.” Janeway left engineering and went back to the bridge. There she could see how the battle had started. ”Open a channel to the Tara ships!” she ordered.

”This is Captain Kathryn Janeway on the Federation Starship Voyager,” she said, ”I want to speak to the Tara Commander.” The picture on the screen changed and an evil-looking Tara appeared. ”I’m Admiral Bjarni on the Tara flagship Maks.” He looked at Janeway. ”Don’t you dare to interfere in our business,” he said. ”I demand that you immediately stop your hostile acts against the Famsters and return to your homeworld with your fleet.” answered Janeway. ”Then I will suggest that your Leader starts to prepare for peaceful negotiations with the Famsters. ”The Tara Admiral gave her a mean look. ”Never!” he said. ”Our Praetor, the beloved Attala has given us order to wipe out the Famster fleet and destroy their homeworld. And I’m fully intended to carry out the orders of my Praetor! And if your ship tries to prevent us from doing that we will destroy you too!” ”I don’t think you will, said Janeway calmly. I have contacted the Federation Headquarters. In about one minute there will be 10 more ships of Voyager’s capacity in this area and 15 minutes later, 30 more ships will arrive. They will use the same beaming technology as we used on your stadium when we liberated the prisoners and escaped to Voyager. This beaming technology can also be used to transport ships. 41 ships of Voyager’s capacity is more than enough to destroy your whole fleet, Admiral. You got one minute to withdraw your fleet!” Janeway said firmly. The admiral laughed: ”You are lying! You don’t have that technology.  Ridiculous!”  ”Well Admiral, let’s see who’s ridiculous.” Janeway said. Then she tapped her commbadge. ”Now!” she whispered to Torres in engineering. Suddenly 10 ships appeared, surrounding Voyager. They looked exactly like Voyager and now this Starfleet armada started to move towards the Tara ships. She could see the surprised look on Admiral Bjarni’s face on the screen. The contact between the ships was still established. ”No, it's not possible.” the Admiral whispered with fear in his eyes.

In reality there was no Starfleet armada. The ships that surrounded Voyager were 10 holographic projections of Voyager. They had used this trick once before to fool the Kazons and now they had apparently succeeded in fooling the Tara’s too. The Admiral looked at Janeway again. Then he cried: ”Forgive me for my failing, my beloved Praetor!” and pushed a button on his console. Then he disappeared from the screen and instead Janeway could see a gigantic explosion where the flagship once had been. Then the Tara ships started to explode one by one. First Janeway thought that the Famsters had invented some sinister technology, which made the Tara ships explode. But then she understood. ”They’re committing suicide!” she said. ”They rather die here than going home to be executed. 

Everybody on the Lynx heard the conversation between Janeway and the Tara Admiral. The crewmembers started to look at each other, utterly astonished. Kes left her chair and walked up to look at the screen. ”I knew it!” she said triumphantly. ”I knew that Captain Janeway wouldn’t let us down!” ”I wonder what she’s up to, ” muttered Mike, looking in disbelief at the screen. Then they saw the projections appear. ”What the-!” Novak blurted. ”But this can’t be possible,” Mike whispered. But Kes knew. ”They are holographic projections!” she said. They are trying to fool the Taras with holographic projections. They did so once with the Kazons.” Then suddenly they saw the Tara flagship explode, followed by several others. ”They’re committing suicide,” Novak said, reaching the same conclusion as Janeway. Kes stared at him in disbelief. ”They do it because for them it’s a great disgrace to be defeated in battle,” he explained. ”And their senior officers will be executed as traitors if they go home.” Kes felt a sudden sadness when she saw the exploding Tara ships. How cruel, she thought. She realized that there must be a lot of innocent people on the ships. Ordinary crewmembers that probably didn’t want to fight this war but were forced to. And now they were dying, all because of a megalomaniac dictator and his crazy ideas about building an empire. ”What a waste!” she heard Novak say. Apparently the Lynx leader had the same thoughts as she. Then Mike’s voice brought them back to reality. ”They are still some of them left who maybe will try to fight. We must help the Famsters to chase them away!” The Lynx, whose port engine now seemed to be working again moved in against the Tara ships.

On the bridge of Voyager, Janeway and the others could see how the Famster ships slowly were getting an advantage. Some of the Tara ships really tried to continue the fight. But now they were disorganized and an easy targets for the Famster ships. There were also many Tara ships that turned around and fled. Probably their commanders had some faith in the Praetor’s mercy and were willing to take the chance that he would not execute them. Suddenly it was all over. The Tara ships were gone and all that’s existed of the Great Armada was debris and junk. Then Harry Kim said: ”The Lynx are hailing us.” Novak’s face appeared on the screen. He looked worn and tired but also happy. Behind him they could see Kes’s smiling face. ”Thanks Captain,” Novak said ” it seems like I own you an apologize. ”Never mind, Mr. Novak,” Janeway answered. ”We all make our mistakes sometimes.” ”That holographic trick,” Novak said, ”it was amazing! How did you come up with this idea?” I’ll explain it to you when you come here next time,” Janeway said. ”If you don’t mind Captain,” Novak smiled, ”we would like to make a visit to your ship as soon as possible. First we want to return this young lady to you and then we have other important things to discuss.” ”You are welcome anytime,” Janeway said. Then Novak moved aside and Kes’s face filled up the whole screen. ”Thank you Captain,” she said with gratitude in her voice. ”Deep inside I knew that you would find a solution.” Janeway smiled and nodded. The happy look in Kes’s eyes and the smile on her face was the best reward Janeway could have.

 

 

Chapter 18

They were gathered in the mess hall to celebrate the adventure that had ended so happily. All the senior officers on Voyager were there, a lot of other crewmembers, almost the whole Lynx crew in their Maquis outfit and also the Starfleet Commander of the Famsters. He was much taller than most of the Famsters and were an exotic spot among all the people with his pale-blue face and orange hair and a pale-blue uniform with red insignia. The atmosphere was cheerful and only almost slightly marred when the ever-talkative Lynx called Sonny remarked on Neelix’s food: ”Tastes like some traffic-overrunned badger! Ouch!” Neelix was furious but the diplomatic Novak steered him away and soon the two of them were having a deep conversation with Neelix smiling and talking and Novak just smiling and nodding. ”For once my colleague is the one who’s listening,” Mike said to Janeway. ”Apparently,” said Janeway. She had had long conversation with the Lynx member who once had been in Starfleet and she asked him why he had left. ”I didn’t like all these regulations” Mike answered. But after all this I’m ready to give it a try again.” Janeway nodded. She had begin to like the calm Lynx Second In Command who still had a lot of Starfleet discipline left in him. Then Novak came towards them. Neelix had run into the kitchen to do some duty, which had given Novak the opportunity to get away from him. ”Captain,” he said in his most polite manners, is it possible for us to join your crew, I mean like Chakotay and the others did? I’m getting a little tired of this part of space and your ship is the best alternative for us to get home.” I think that’s possible,” Janeway said. She wasn’t totally happy about the thoughts of integrating another bunch of Maquis into her crew. There had been a lot of problems with Chakotay’s crew earlier and she didn’t want to have it start all over again. But on the other hand she knew that she just couldn’t leave these people stranded here. After all, they were humans, like her and in the same situation as she and her crew were. And some of them could be of very good use. She had already seen some real promising adepts among the Lynx crew. If we can shape of the edges a little bit, they can be good crewmembers, she thought. And Chakotay would be of good use in doing that, she knew that. ”All right Mr. Novak, we will take you and your crew with us. But don’t expect that this will be some sort of pleasure trip. In fact we still don’t know if we’ll reach Federation space again.” ”Well, whatever happens, it won’t be much worse than what we’ve already been through,” answered Novak, ”and with you as captain I would be surprised if we didn’t reach Federation space again.”

Then he and Mike turned to Chakotay, B’Elanna Torres and Tom Paris who were standing nearby and instead Kes came walking up to Janeway. ”Captain,” Kes said, a little hesitating, ”I’m sorry for my outburst down on the Famster’s planet but-” ”Don’t worry Kes, said Janeway soothingly. ”I’m not angry of you, and by the way, you had the right to express your opinion.” Kes felt a little embarrassed. ”Yes, but I was so angry.” ”Well, that’s understandable. You were afraid that your friends should be killed or injured and that nobody would come to their help. And believe me,” Janeway said and looked Kes in the eyes, ”I did feel like a pig down there because I knew what the Taras were capable to. You know, that moment I really doubted the Prime Directive and all Starfleet regulations.” ”But,” she continued and looked at the two former Lynx leaders who were discussing some old Maquis action with Chakotay, Paris and Torres, ”I think that your friend Novak was right when he said that sometimes it can be necessary to bend the rules a little to save lives.” Kes smiled. ”That’s my opinion too,” she said. ”And we never violated the Prime Directive,” Janeway said. ”We didn’t fire a single shot. We just asked the Taras to leave. The Taras saw ghosts that never existed and they exterminated themselves.”

Janeway was in her quarters. She was lying in bed, staring at the stars outside the huge window and was thinking about all that had happened. After the battle was over they had returned to Vetifer. There the Famsters received them like heroes. Janeway had found it a bit embarrassing. After all they hadn’t been directly involved in the battle. But the Famster leaders were lyrical when they talked about the trick that had fooled the Tara fleet. Now the Famsters would have the time they needed to build up their own fleet while the Taras would have to start all over again. I guess there will be quiet here for some time, Janeway thought. She had also had a long conference with the Famster leaders. Now the hash words from the conference yesterday was forgiven and forgotten. The Famsters had become very friendly and polite again. Their only regret was that the Federation was so far away. ”Otherwise we would have joined it,” had the President Amon said. Janeway thought that if the Federation should expand its diplomatic contacts to worlds in the Delta Quadrant, the Famster homeworld would be good planet to start with.

She had permitted that the old Lynx ship remained with the Famsters, after moving and disabling some of it’s more advanced technology, which she wouldn’t put in the hands of a non-Federation race. The Famsters would probably have problems with repairing it, Mike had said, without the clever engineer who had left with the rest of the Lynx crew. But the Famster pilot Oldric was still there and he would probably get a new crew among the Famsters. So they would probably use it in their defense until the new Famster spaceships were ready. The three Taras who they had rescued from the execution had decided to stay with the Famsters and lead the opposition against the Tara dictator from there. It can be the beginning of a new era in this part of the galaxy, thought Janeway. She felt happy about how this adventure had ended. They had saved a planet and it’s inhabitants after all. They had also picked up a bunch of stranded Federation citizens who would be a good reinforcement for the crew. And the maybe most important of all, they had got Kes back!

The Famsters had also been more than eager to give them food supplies from their gardens as a gift to Voyager who had helped them. They had been transporting food supplies almost the whole day and now their store was almost over-filled. Neelix had jumped around like a child with a happy smile on his face. ”Captain,” he had said. ”This is fantastic. Our small blue friends have given me so much. You can’t imagine what wonderful dishes I can make with all this. Just wait and see Captain! Just wait and see!” Janeway had smiled and then looked at the Famster who was assisting Neelix in storing the goods. The poor being had looked at Neelix, almost scared and had then shook his head at the sight of Neelix jumping around. At least he will never forget Neelix, she thought. She had been a little more confused when Novak, Tom Paris and an ex- Lynx crewmember appeared with loads of mysterious red parcels, which they began to store. ”What is this?” she had asked, as if she had expected that some half-illegal trade had taken place without her knowledge. ”Coffee,” smiled Paris, ”pure Famster coffee. Tastes almost like our own back on Earth. You must try it.” ”I made a deal with the Famsters,” said Novak. ”I told them that this was what we wanted most of all. And do you know why? I’m a coffee-addict myself and if I drink too much of Neelix’s coffee I will probably be dead or at least very ill in a week. Now I will survive, at least for some time.” Janeway had just laughed. She liked coffee herself and had the same opinion as the others about Neelix’s brew.

Suddenly she was interrupted in her thoughts by a sudden flash in the middle of the room and there was-Q! ”Good evening, my dear,” he said with his usual, arrogant smile. I hope I’m not disturbing you too much but I just have to congratulate you for how you handled this affair. The trick with the holographic projections was just marvelous! ”Q!” Janeway sighed. What are you doing here? ”Oh you don’t look happy to see me. Why? I should be very grateful if I were you. After all, didn’t I give you your little blond angel back? Who else could have done it but moi? And didn’t I give you some useful reinforcement? After all, you have lost some crewmembers during this journey. Those Lynx people can be very useful for you. Ah, you should have seen how they wiped out the pirate nest when they liberated your lovely Kes. That was really action! Bang, bang, bang! Just like in your old Wild West. I loved it! A lot more entertaining to watch than your boring holodeck novels!” Janeway looked at him and shook her head. ”All right Q! I am grateful for bringing Kes back and for the new crewmembers but what I wonder is why? You haven’t got any reputation for benevolence, have you?” ”My dear Captain,” said Q, ”I have in fact some sympathy for you and your crew. You are a much more sympathetic and charming person than my old friend Jean-Luc Picard and all the other boring, narrow-minded Starfleet officers. You are so-very human, if I could say that. And your fate here! Stranded in an unknown part of the galaxy and you only have yourselves to trust. You have made it good so far, I must say. And I also have some sympathy for that charming little thing, Kes. I couldn’t deny her wish to come back to you and be like you even if I had preferred that she had stayed with me in the Continuum. And as I said to Kes earlier, I’m not such a bad Q after all.

And there was also another problem,” Q continued. ”These Lynx people were creating too much trouble. First I really admired their unselfish help to those blue little trolls. But then I began to fear that they would make the Famsters to powerful so that they maybe should attack the Tara homeworld. And I just couldn’t let them overthrow that charming dictator of Tara. That should have been a waste! And by the way, two ships from the Alpha Quadrant running havoc in the Delta Quadrant is at least one too much.”  ”Well Q?” asked Janeway. ”If you feel so much sympathy for us, why don’t you help us to get home?” ”No, that would be too easy,” Q said. ”In fact, it’s more interesting and entertaining to see if you could make it on your own.” Then he raised his hand in the air. ”I’m sorry my dear but now I have to leave. I have some important business to take care of elsewhere. But I promise to visit you again soon. Au revoir, mon cherie!” Then he snapped his fingers and disappeared. Janeway stared a long time at the spot where Q had been standing. Then she decided to get some sleep.

 

Epilogue

Eko and his son were standing outside their house. They stared up at the black sky where they saw a small, shining starlike dot start to move and then disappear. They had visited the city earlier this day to be among the people who celebrated the victory over the Taras and to show the gratitude to their Lynx friends and their even more powerful friends from the Starship Voyager. They had themselves donated some of their harvest to Voyager. That’s the least we can do, Eko thought. Now they were back at the farm and they were standing outside the house, just watching the stars, for the first time for long with no fear that they should see the Tara armada approach. ”There she goes,” Eko said. ”The angel. The angel and her friends who helped us.” ”You don’t really believe that Miss Kes was an angel,” his son said. ”When I visited the hospital after that accident with my sprained foot I could see that she was a normal person, like our Lynx friends. She was no spirit or something like that.” ”Maybe you’re right,” the older man said, ”but I will always remember her as an angel. And you can’t deny that there was something about what the old woman said, after all.” ”Maybe you’re right,” said his son after some hesitation, ”there are some things in this life which are very hard to explain.” They looked at each other. Then they went into the house where a good meal was waiting for them. Maybe I should start to repair the house tomorrow, Eko thought.

Kes rushed through the corridors and reached the mess hall. She had a busy day in front of her. First she had promised the Doctor to help him with some samples. Then she should work in the hydroponics bay. She was a little disappointed about how the hydroponics bay had been handled after she’d left but she was determined to make it as beautiful as it once was. She had just had a brief conversation with Tuvok about her mental abilities. They still seemed to be some of it left. She had told Tuvok about how she knocked out the guard on the pirate base and her feelings about events and people around her. Tuvok had listened carefully, then said: ”Some of the old Ocampa abilities are still there but I would advise you to be very careful with them. I will be here to help you if they should be any problems. But be careful. She had promised Tuvok that. She would never experiment with anything that could be a threat to the ship again. Never! She would only try to use these powers in case of urgent emergency. And Q had also eliminated the risk for her to be transformed into some energy life form. Now I’m finally free from it. Now I will just enjoy the pleasure of being here with my friends again, she thought. When she entered the mess hall she heard laughter from a group of people. She saw some of the old crew, including Chakotay and Paris and some of the new, ex-Lynx crew, including Novak sitting together at a table. They seemed to be in a happy mood and apparently the integration of the new crewmembers had started very good. They waived and nodded at her and she gave them a lovely smile. Then Neelix came rushing out of the kitchen. ”Kes, my dear” he said. ”I have made something very special for you. A Jibalian Fudge Cake! Only for you!” he said smiling. ”Oh, thank you, Neelix,” she answered. ”That was very kind of you.” Then she looked around and saw that both Paris and Novak stared at Neelix with some suspicion and jealousy in their eyes and it amused her a bit. Some things in life never changes, she thought. She sat down at a table with her piece of cake and a cup of coffee. When she looked around the mess hall she felt a wave of happiness going through her whole body. She was home again among her friends. Back on Voyager where she always wanted to be.