Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Q sends Janeway to an AU for a little R and R. Seven gets in touch with her inner lawyer.
When Gene Roddenberry comes to me and complains, I'll stop.
Captain Janeway lowered her head gingerly to her ready-room desk. This was a trying sector of space, full of long-winded, annoying aliens charging way too much for a little beryllium. She was nursing a splitting headache with heavy, but as yet ineffective, doses of coffee.
"Kathy, dear, you need a vacation."
Her head snapped back up. "Q!"
"The very same."
"Not today, Q, I have a headache."
"That's why I'm so concerned about you. You've had that headache for three weeks now."
"My health is my own business."
"The whole multiverse is interconnected. Your headache is my headache."
"And you are mine. What do you want this time?" she asked wearily.
"Why, Kathy, you sound almost tired of me!"
"Always, Q, always."
He pouted. "Well, if that's how you feel, maybe you'll prefer the company of the Borg. They're transwarping by as we speak."
Her tone softened. "That won't be necessary. I'll go see the Doctor - will that do?"
"I'm not Chuckles, Kathy. I insist that you take a real vacation."
"First peaceable M-class planet we come across I'll do just that, I promise." Said planet would probably be Bajor, in seventy years' time.
"I can offer you so much more than an ordinary shore leave."
"Your jaunts aren't restful, Q."
"This one will be - I promise." His promise was as sincere as hers.
"You know I can't agree to this."
"That's why I do it all against your will, dear. I wouldn't want Starfleet Command throwing you in prison with Chuckles the Terrorist when you get home - not on account of me, anyway."
"We get home?" she echoed hopefully.
"So many Voyagers of the multiverse get home - most of them with my help, but you've refused that," Q answered huffily. "So it's just a short vacation for you."
"I don't suppose I can talk you out of this."
Q shook his head. "Here's the scene, Kathy: I'll exchange you with another Kathryn Janeway for a while. Your replacement will be just as much of a martinet as you are, so no one will be the wiser. She'll keep your crew out of trouble while you're enjoying yourself on her Voyager, which happens to be passing through a mineral-rich, uninhabited section of the Delta Quadrant. You can take some shore leave, play New Earth," - she frowned - "bathe early and often, and shake that nagging headache."
"What's in it for her?" she demanded.
"I'm afraid I can't divulge that information. Suffice it to say that she'll like it here as much as you'll like it there."
"Where's the catch?"
"You wound me, Kathy."
"Of course, you shouldn't tell anyone there about the switch. I can't have you polluting the multiverse - that would be irresponsible."
Perish the thought. "And how long will this 'vacation' take?" she asked.
Q's Starfleet uniform went from command red to medical blue. "I prescribe at least two weeks of rest and relaxation. If, after that, you don't like the universe, just give me a holler."
"Your objection is noted. Now be a good girl and do as I've said."
The ship shimmered around the Captain. She grew queasy watching the stars swim by the viewport, but in a moment it was over. Q was gone. Her ready-room looked the same. She was about to call for her first officer when it occurred to her that he might be off-duty, off the ship, dead or even unborn. Q had promised peace and quiet, after all.
The best policy, Janeway decided, would be to venture outside and assess the bridge crew, and she did so. Chakotay was not on the bridge - dead? she wondered idly - but Tuvok, Paris and Kim were there, along with a few ensigns who, on her Voyager, hadn't been rotated up here for quite a while. Was that a touch of grey in Tuvok's hair? The scientist in her longed to catalogue the differences between this universe and her own.
She counted Tom's pips - a fluctuating quantity in any universe - before venturing her first inquiry. "Still nothing for miles around, Lieutenant?" she quipped, relying on Q's information.
"Nothing at all, ma'am," he answered.
On her way out of the ready-room, she'd picked a random PADD up off her desk; now she perused it in the big chair. The Astrometrics report confirmed what Q had told her - this was a preternaturally quiet sector of the Delta Quadrant. None of the staff's theories of why seemed to stand out. Had an ancient stellar civilization annihilated itself? Had anyone ever lived here, or even seen these pristine planets? Her own theory, that Q had caused a dozen species to wink out of existence for the sake of her 'vacation', was equally implausible. It just wasn't his style.
She was reading the section on suitable M-class worlds for shore leave - apparently they'd been down on one already - when the beta shift arrived. She ducked into her ready-room to drop off the PADD, but decided not to risk what might be the unusual behavior of hiding in there longer.
Instead, the faux Captain headed for the mess hall, but she regretted the choice as soon as she walked in. Everyone seemed surprised to see her, though they tried to hide it. I guess I dine in my quarters, she reflected ruefully. Still, Captains don't turn tail and run. She greeted Neelix and asked for coffee - some things just had to be constant across the multiverse.
"Hard day at the office, Captain?" the furry cook asked as he handed her a steaming mug.
"A bit dull, maybe," she answered noncommittally.
She couldn't stay - whom would she sit with? Whom might she frighten if she sat down by them, or insult if she sat down with someone else? So she drifted out of the mess hall, mug in hand, and wandered the decks, adopting a purposeful stride whenever she heard someone approaching.
In Astrometrics, the roving Captain looked up one of the M-class planets mentioned in their report. In Hydroponics, she noted another subtle difference - a plot she'd sown with seeds a Ferengi-like alien had promised were coffeelike was lush with what looked like black grapes. She thought she recognized the rest of the plants, but though she could use a snack she wouldn't risk asking the computer which fruits were edible - they might be her favorite foods, or this universe's answer to leola root. Her stomach growled - she'd have to ask the replicator in her quarters for her usual, whatever that was.
Yet she was reluctant to go to her quarters, to see them subtlely changed, no longer homey. She'd be invading someone else's personal space. Speaking of which, where was Chakotay? She finally admitted to herself that this saunter through the ship was a quest for him. Just seeing him would tell her as much about her position on this Voyager and in this universe as her counterpart's logs could. Yet she was reluctant to go to his quarters, not knowing what that would mean here.
She lingered by the holodeck. The computer revealed that Tom was inside programming, alone. On an impulse, she checked the schedule for the next few weeks. Chakotay's name was nowhere on the list. Maybe this Chakotay didn't care for the holodeck, though this Janeway clearly did.
Where was Chakotay? She'd seen plenty of Maquis on the ship; it was still her motley crew, but how could she handle them alone? She couldn't ask the computer where he was - it would notify the Doctor of her disorientation and Tuvok of her suspicious behavior, if there were no Chakotay to be found. She would have to go to his quarters after all.
Arriving there, she sighed. The plate by his door listed two names, neither one his. The couple must have married and moved into the First Officer's ample quarters. She wondered if he had been killed, or left alone on New Earth, or had lived his worst nightmare, assimilation by the Borg. Suddenly the multiverse was a very depressing place, a realm of innumerable tragedies infinitely repeated.
She paced the deck, examining every doorway, but his name was nowhere to be found. Maybe he'd moved to the lower decks, she thought hopefully, but something told her that wasn't the case.
Her own door said simply 'Janeway', without her rank - these little differences between universes didn't seem so interesting anymore. She walked in.
The lights were on, the table was set, the details flashed through her mind as she saw who was leaning over to light the candles.
"Kathryn!" he responded, flashing his trademark dimples. "You look like you've just seen a ghost." When she didn't smile in return he rushed over to her. "What's wrong?"
"Q," was all she managed to say. He frowned. She slumped, drained, to the couch, idly noticing his things on the walls, in the corners - he must live here, she thought. She should have known Q was up to no good. And why was she so relieved? There were still infinitely many dead Chakotays in infinitely many alternate universes--
"What did he want?" this Chakotay asked, interrupting her thoughts.
"He said I needed to take a vacation," she answered.
There was no way she was going to bluff her way through this situation. She would have to tell him the truth. "He--" switched me with your Janeway, she tried to say, but only the first word came out. She tried again, "He--"
It was futile. The words 'Be a good girl, Kathy,' drifted across the multiverse into her mind.
What could she do? If she went on saying 'he', she'd end up in restraints in Sickbay. They would know it was Q who had driven her mad, small comfort that would be to anyone.
She tried to say something less specific, to see what Q would or wouldn't let pass. "He's watching me. He said something about two weeks' vacation." So far, so good.
While she had been struggling to speak, Chakotay had sat down in her personal space and wrapped a reassuring arm around her. At least, he meant it to be reassuring. While it might have done wonders for his own Kathryn, it was making her position that much more difficult. She needed parameters, and she needed them now.
"Chakotay, you understand I can't ... not with him watching."
Ever the gentleman, Chakotay didn't mention that the omnipotent pest was probably always watching. He humored her with an "I understand" and a chaste kiss on her hair.
'Always the prude, Kathy,' she heard Q's voice faintly. 'Don't think she's being so diffident with your Chuckles.' The local Chakotay didn't seem to hear.
She resigned herself to marking time and trying not to louse up anyone's personal life in the next two weeks. She sat down to dinner with Chakotay.
She spent her next duty shift in her ready room going over her official logs, beginning with the most important events: the Caretakers, the Borg, the communications with Starfleet. The major details seemed to match her own recollections. She had just started in on lesser matters when Chakotay walked in and began to massage her neck.
"Shift's over," he said. "Did you reserve the Holodeck?"
She recalled seeing her name on the schedule during last night's tour of the ship. "Yes," she answered.
Drifting down a holo-river in a canoe, eating black grapes out of a picnic basket, trying hard to look contented, she began almost to enjoy her vacation. She hadn't had a chance to ham it up since her role as Queen Arachnia.
"A penny for your thoughts," Chakotay said.
"I was just wondering how my subjects, the Spider People, were getting along without me." She glanced up, wondering if this universe included hapless photonic life forms. He was smiling; she sighed with relief. She should really be more careful.
The next day Janeway found out she was married.
She'd gone to the Doctor in her last attempt at an end-run around Q. "Give me the works," she said.
He was surprised, but businesslike. His bedside manner subroutines kicked in and he asked, "How's married life treating you, Captain?" Fortunately his eyes were on the medical tricorder when she blanched.
She was quiet until he finished his scans. "Well, Doctor?"
"Everything appears to be in order, Captain. Is there something in particular I should be looking for?"
"I had a run-in with Q. I thought maybe--" She got no further, but at least she'd given it that old Starfleet try.
The Doctor waited for the rest of the sentence, but when nothing was forthcoming he said, "You're fine as far as I can tell, but maybe you should take a few days off."
"That's what Q suggested."
"Tell me a story," she said, in a stroke of brilliance. "Tell me about our wedding."
Chakotay looked at her askance. Drat it, she thought, if we're married, there must have been a wedding, mustn't there? How warped is this universe? She tried to cover up her gaff with a mischievous grin.
"I'll try," he said, and began to tell her the story of their time on New Earth. The Captain listened with bated breath, waiting for the vital difference. He reached the end of the tale, and there had been no difference, at least none that she could put her finger on. Her own Chakotay might have told the story the same way.
"What about the wedding?" she asked lightly, trying to make it sound as though she were in on the secret of getting married without any sort of marriage ceremony.
"If you want the legal details, you should ask Seven. I never quite followed that part - I just appreciated the results." He smiled as at their own private joke, so she smiled as at a private joke. But what was the punch line?
She'd contrived to fall asleep on the couch for several nights now, but each morning she'd woken up, unmolested, in their bed. Tonight she decided to eliminate the middleman. She touched his hand when he came to bed, and said, "I'm sorry about all this."
"It's not your fault," he replied. "Are you sure he'll go away after two weeks?"
"He said he would. He sounded sincere - I can only hope his mate is keeping him honest these days."
She fell asleep holding his hand, and woke up tangled around him. It was clear she had done it in her sleep. She rested there for twelve seconds too long, a moral lapse in a straight-laced Captain trying hard not to usurp another woman's place. She inhaled sharply and pulled herself away; he woke up, smiled, pecked her on the cheek and disappeared into the bathroom. She exhaled.
Checking the chronometer, she got up and made them breakfast. In a way, it was easier to bluff through this universe as a married woman. Anything odd she said or did could be chalked up to love. She smiled over the eggs florentine at her adopted husband. She could only protect one of them from Q's machinations - she was beginning to feel the effects herself.
She wondered whether she were falling in love with this Chakotay, or merely pretending to love him, or if she loved her own Chakotay and was pretending this one was hers. Philosophy was not her strong point, though, so once he'd left for his shift she turned her thoughts back to the mystery of the missing wedding.
"Computer, search my personal database for any references to New Earth, Seven of Nine and marriage."
The computer replied, "Recording of a conference, Stardate 54326.3, called by the EMH - himself, Captain Janeway, Commander Chakotay, Lieutenant Commander Tuvok and Seven of Nine in attendance. Audio only."
"Play," the Captain ordered.
"I'm sure you're all wondering why I've gathered you here today," the Doctor's voice began. "Let me reassure you that it is purely a legal matter; there is no danger to the ship or its crew."
"Several months ago, as part of her ongoing dissimilation process, Seven of Nine and I were discussing the nature of social interactions on Voyager. I suggested that she think of Voyager as a floating Federation colony in the Delta Quadrant, rather than a typical Starfleet scientific vessel. I recommended that she review the histories of small Federation colonies, paying close attention to the impromptu social structures which developed and the details of civil law. I thought this would help her better understand life aboard ship."
The Captain's voice answered, "It sounds like a wonderful idea, Doctor, but what does it have to do with the rest of us?" Kathryn recognized her own please-cut-to-the-chase tone, which had never been particularly effective on the EMH in her universe.
This EMH was equally dauntless. "My student became intrigued by Federation law, the notions of precedent and self-governance--"
Fortunately, the student herself chose to interrupt her pedagogue. "My personal interests are irrelevant, Doctor. Captain, Commander, I have discovered something which the Doctor believes may be disturbing to you."
There was a pause before the Captain spoke, during which Kathryn knew her counterpart had looked to Chakotay, who would have nodded his assent. "Go on, Seven."
"According to my study of civil law, you are married."
There was a longer pause, in which the expressions now crossing her own face must have crossed that Captain's. She could almost hear Tuvok's eyebrow rising.
Seven's voice broke the silence. "When Voyager left you on New Earth, the two of you constituted a Federation colony. It is not clear whether yours was a military or civilian settlement, but in either case Federation law stipulates that the civil laws of a colony are those of the homeworlds of the colonists, until the point at which they formulate their own code of civil law. I trust you never did so?" Seven inquired.
"No," Chakotay responded. It would seem the Captain was still too shocked to speak.
"In the case of colonists from differing homeworlds, the civil laws of each homeworld apply, insofar as they do not conflict. I will not bore you with the general case, but as regards matrimony, any ceremony which would be binding on one of their worlds of origin is binding for the colonists."
The Captain finally spoke: "We didn't have a wedding ceremony."
Seven continued, "On Dorvan V, Commander Chakotay's homeworld, marriages may be solemnized by cohabitation. Although many Terran traditions require vows and sexual congress to establish the married state, the mere sharing of a domicile suffices on Dorvan and therefore did on New Earth."
She, or rather her counterpart, must have given Chakotay a desperate look at this point - nothing else could account for the reluctant tone in which he said, "On Dorvan, separation also suffices for divorce. The Captain and I have not cohabited for years - we are divorced."
Seven demurred, "I'm afraid it is not that simple, Commander. When you returned to Voyager, you left the sphere of colonial civil law and came under Starfleet civil law. Starfleet civil law is rather restricted; it allows Captains to perform marriages on board their vessels and provides some regulation of unofficial activities such as barter and trade between crewmen, but it makes no provisions for divorce. Crewmen wishing to divorce must do so in another civil jurisdiction, usually that of their own homeworlds."
Everyone was silent for a moment. Tuvok asked, "Do you have a recommendation as to how the Captain and Commander might divorce?"
Seven was headed for a career in the Judiciary. "I do not recommend establishing a new colony for the sole purpose of divorcing the Captain and Commander. The legal status of such an impromptu colony would be questionable, as would the divorce. The best option would be to send a petition for divorce to the Terran government, including requests to waive the standard requirements of a waiting period, counselling, physical presence at the proceedings, and various other legal niceties. Both parties must agree to divorce, and then they would still have to wait for the judgement. If they do not agree, it is highly unlikely the Terran government would grant the petition without the physical presence of the petitioning party."
"What are the other options?" Chakotay asked.
"I assume the Commander would prefer not to petition the Cardassian government to grant him a divorce," Seven replied suavely. "It is unlikely they would do so in any event, since they tend not to recognize the personal arrangements of their non-Cardassian subjects. We should also assume he is still wanted under Cardassian criminal law, which would complicate such a request enormously."
Seven seemed to be enjoying herself. Perhaps the Law was the first thing she'd found that was as torturously complex as the Collective. "Petitioning the tribal elders of Dorvan, should any have survived the Dominion War, would be equally fruitless; divorce is an informal matter among them which they would not deign to ratify or oppose. Another possibility would be the annulment of the marriage under the Terran jurisdiction, but that would involve most of the difficulties of a divorce, plus the added complication that annulments are almost never granted in cases where the marriage has lasted longer than two years."
"This is ludicrous," the Captain said softly.
The Doctor spoke again. "Lieutenant Commander Tuvok, I asked you to this meeting to discuss the question of fraternization. Seven is as yet unfamiliar with such aspects of Starfleet military regulations."
"Technically," Tuvok began, "there is no issue of fraternization when the parties are married." He sounded almost annoyed at being second choice to Seven in legal matters. "Nor is there any prohibition of marriage, accidental or intentional, between members of Starfleet. Starfleet may choose to reassign one of the couple when a marriage occurs between members of the same crew, depending on their particular situation. We should notify Starfleet of the event at our earliest convenience--"
"In fifty years?" Chakotay asked wryly.
Tuvok ignored the interruption. "However, there is nothing they can do in this situation. It is against regulations to discharge or demote anyone on the basis of marital status, and there is no other Starfleet vessel in the quadrant to which they could transfer the Commander."
"Tuvok, do you agree with Seven's assessment?" the Captain asked.
"I see no flaw in her interpretation of Federation civil law, Captain," Tuvok replied. "Would you like me to draft a petition for divorce?"
"We can handle that, Tuvok," Chakotay said quickly. "After all, it is hardly ship's business."
"Well, then, congratulations all around," the Doctor said. Someone must have glared at him, for his tone turned serious as he added, "Of course, the matter will not spread beyond this room. That is all I wished to discuss."
"Dismissed," the Captain said faintly. The shuffling as they exited could be heard on the recording. "Chakotay?" she added.
He must have been walking out the door with the others; his voice was distant as he said, "I need some time to think about this, Kathryn."
Personal log, Janeway, Stardate 54391.8:
I thought Chakotay was taking the whole matter quite well until I noticed the discrepancy in my replicator rations. I confronted him about it; he said he was obliged by tribal law to provide for me. I thought he was joking, I said I'd fix it myself. He told me not to bother, that he'd had Seven do the reprogramming, no one else but B'Elanna could undo it, and I didn't want to tell her, now did I? I asked him why Seven wouldn't fix if I ordered her to. He said something I didn't quite catch about community property under Starfleet civil law.
I stopped asking questions then. There was a look in his eyes that I'd never seen there before - like a cat who's finally caught his mouse and now is just toying with it. I didn't dare order him to have Seven undo what he'd had her do; somehow I knew he would refuse and then what would I do - ask for the divorce? He can refuse that, too.
So I've been ignoring the issue. He touches me on the arm - accidentally yet possessively - and I ignore it. In my ready room the other day, I leaned my head on my hand and before I knew it he'd swooped around the desk and begun massaging my neck. I refuse to use his - our - replicator rations, but he noticed and now he brings me coffee. So I eat in the mess hall; I sit at the most crowded tables but when he walks over someone always gets up and gives him a seat. Do they see the look, too? I shudder to think what the rumor mill is grinding.
He's been a perfect gentleman, always cool and businesslike when we're on duty. He hasn't said a thing about it, not that he needs to. I can recognize the irony even without the smirk that's taken up permanent residence on his face - my vaunted Starfleet protocols and Federation laws have betrayed me to the Maquis.
"Computer, end playback." Kathryn hadn't meant to listen to her counterpart's personal logs, but in her absorption she'd let the computer run on, forgetting that they weren't her own logs, that this entire drama wasn't her own. She'd heard enough now to fill in the rest - it was a Kobiyashi Maru if she'd ever seen one.
Q had certainly picked an amusing universe. She wondered whether civil law were such a tangle in her own Federation - it wasn't a subject she'd ever taken an interest in. She shuddered to think that she might be married to her own Chakotay, that at this very moment her own Seven might be pursuing her dangerous legal studies.
She'd have to purge the databanks of colonial law when she got back.
Unable to detect significant vegetable or mineral differences between her own universe and this one, Janeway's scientific curiosity had turned to the intriguing social variations. She entered the conference room eager to witness a weekly staff meeting.
There was more strangeness in this universe than just her unexpected marriage - the whole atmosphere of this Voyager was subtly different. This crew was cheerful and relaxed, as though they'd stopped fighting and learned to love the Delta Quadrant. They even seemed to enjoy Neelix's cooking. How did the senior staff interact?
Seven was the least altered - she was a transuniversal constant, like coffee. At the moment, she was droning on about the many class M planets of this uninhabited sector of space.
B'Elanna, however, brimmed with enthusiasm. When Seven finished, or perhaps just paused in her lifelong Borg monologue, the chief engineer jumped in with praises of planet M-1327.
"I think this is the one we've been looking for, Captain," B'Elanna said eagerly. "M-class, high mineral content, mild weather."
The ship was in need of a complete overhaul; today's meeting was about finding a nice spot to set her down. M-1327 was a little over a day away at warp 5.
"Will you get my ship back within Starfleet specs, B'Elanna?" the Captain asked.
"Will Maquis specs do?" Torres answered.
"I was unaware that the Maquis had engineering specifications," Tuvok said, with a raised eyebrow. Tuvok was making the Vulcan equivalent of a joke, and at a staff meeting, no less. Chakotay and Paris chuckled quietly, while the ersatz Captain wondered if Neelix had been growing happy spores in Hydroponics.
Being a stranger to this happy universe, Janeway turned the meeting back to business. "So it's agreed, we will set down on M-1327." No one objected. "B'Elanna, you'll be in charge of repairs. Harry, you will assist her. I wouldn't mind a bit in the way of spit and polish as well. Voyager is looking a little too lived-in lately." If she couldn't get spit and polish out of Harry, then there was no hope for this universe.
"Tom and Neelix, you will restock our food supplies with the plants Seven mentioned. Nothing poisonous this time, please. Tuvok and Seven, you will handle the mining operations. Chakotay, arrange a new duty roster - put as many people as you can on repairs and mining."
"What about shore leave, Captain?" the First Officer asked.
Let them dig tubers, Janeway thought, but she smiled warmly at her laid-back staff and said instead, "I'll leave that in your hands, Commander. Any other questions?" There were none. "Dismissed."
"Kathryn, wake up."
"Mmmmrgh," she replied. After a bit more growling she added, "Computer, lights." Nothing happened.
"I'm afraid your request is beyond the computer's capabilities," Chakotay said.
"I only brought two blankets."
As she became fully conscious, she found herself lying on one of the blankets, spread over rocky ground, in a chill, semidark scene. "Computer, add blanket," she ordered. Nothing continued to happen.
"We're not on the Holodeck," Chakotay replied. "You'll have to share mine."
She looked up at the predawn sky, then down at the shadowy mountains before them. "So this is M-1327."
"When did we start using Borg designations for planets?" he asked.
"The official Starfleet designation is even worse: S-1156407 III, I believe it was."
"We should give it a name," he said.
She looked back at the sky, which was growing brighter as they spoke. "I haven't seen a sunrise in years," she said.
"For all we know, no one has ever seen S-1156407 rise over M-1327."
"I see your point. What do you suggest we call M-1327?" Janeway asked.
"You're the Captain - you should do the honors."
Unspoiled, beautiful, ephemeral - "Dawn," she pronounced.
He handed her a mug.
"You brought coffee." She could get used to this. No, she was already used to it. After one week of devotion and backrubs she was spoiled rotten. The last place she wanted to see again was her own Delta Quadrant, where she had three crewmen in brig for brawling, a microfracture in the warp core housing, and a slow leak out the shuttlebay doors.
There were rumors of the Borg there, and worst of all, while she'd been negotiating for beryllium and coffee seed, Neelix had managed to lay in a fresh stock of leola root, one that was resistant to the leola fungus 'plaguing' her Voyager. She hadn't had the heart to tell Neelix that the mysterious fungus had been genetically engineered by the exobiology department. She smiled at the memory - even her Voyager had its team spirit, just a slightly more malevolent team spirit than this crew's.
The rim of the sun peered over the mountains. If only Dawn would stop revolving, she could sit here forever on a blanket with her thoughtful spouse, who must have gotten up very early to pack breakfast and transport her in her sleep to this blue-green hillside. She smiled at him as she wondered why these people were even trying to reach the Alpha Quadrant. They had it all - why not just settle down and enjoy it?
"And there was evening, and there was morning - the first day."
On the fifth day, Tom created the animals.
The Captain had gone out with the self-styled Leola Root Brigade early that morning to pick some sour berries. As she crouched down to denude a low bush of its fruit, a host of spiders gathered around her reverently. She reached towards them, smiling, and one climbed onto her outstretched finger.
"Captain, they may be poisonous!" Neelix interrupted his monologue on compotes, jellies and jams to warn her.
"My subjects would never harm me," she reassured him.
"But Captain, we don't know anything about the planet's animal life," the furry Talaxian protested.
For the hundredth time she wondered how her cook, who could barely cook and apparently couldn't pay attention at staff meetings either, had survived for so many years in the Delta Quadrant without Starfleet protection.
"There is no animal life on Dawn. Someone," she said pointedly, "must have set up a portable holoemitter." A feat which had probably required his girlfriend's engineering skills, she thought.
Her arachnid subjects followed her all day, seeming to increase in number as the harvesters proceeded from meadow to meadow. A great host of spiders was headed back to Voyager with the berry-laden away team when Janeway said, "Lieutenant Paris, dismiss my subjects."
"Yes, your majesty," he answered, and the spider people scattered to the four winds.
The next evening most of the crew gathered around a few bonfires. The emptiness of the untouched planet in an unnamed star system in this uninhabited sector of space had, paradoxically, inspired a festive atmosphere among the crew. They were not thinking of how far they were from home, but of how peaceful the middle of nowhere could be.
Tom had replicated marshmallows for toasting, and Harry started a round of camp songs. The Captain leaned against Chakotay, who was busy giving his marshmallows third-degree burns. Neelix frowned at the blackened mess, but Tom assured him that that was the recipe.
The impostor wished again that this were her crew, her husband, her ship. She felt guilty for enjoying herself while her own crew were tired and frustrated. Why was morale so much higher here?
Maybe she could learn something from this universe. "When did morale improve so much?" she asked Chakotay.
"I think it was the day the Captain stood on a chair at breakfast and announced over the comm system, 'The Captain and First Officer of Voyager request the honor of the crew's presence at a formal reception to be held in the mess hall at 2100 hours.' It certainly improved my morale, and Tom made a fortune in replicator rations."
"That's all it took?"
"Our crew is made up of quixotic Maquis and idealistic Starfleet recruits. It doesn't take much to cheer them up - a little romance and adventure goes a long way."
"Whatever possessed me?" she wondered aloud.
"You like to be in charge," he answered. Seeing her puzzled expression, he elaborated, "As long as I was the sole willing participant in our marriage, I had an enormous tactical advantage. Your leola root consumption quadrupled, your coffee intake dropped to a healthy level, you jumped whenever anyone touched you--"
"I remember," she cut him off sharply, attracting a few glances from around the campfire. She was surprised to hear herself lie, but his words had conjured up such a vivid image in her mind that for a moment she'd mistaken it for memory.
"I would have given you the divorce if you'd asked nicely," he said softly.
"Captains don't beg."
"Lucky for me they don't. They're dangerous when crossed, though. If I'd known what I was getting into..."
"And what was that?"
"My new wife insisted I cook leola root for her every night - she claimed she'd acquired a taste for it. The vixen made me learn every last one of Neelix's recipes by heart. She's been no end of trouble."
It seemed marriage hadn't dulled her edge. Maybe she wouldn't wipe the databanks after all.
Her ready room was dim in the backup lighting - most systems were still down for repairs. Janeway gazed out the viewport at the sunny fields of Dawn. She'd tried to say goodbye to Chakotay, but all she'd gotten out was that she had enjoyed her shore leave, at which he'd suggested that they extend their stay on the planet indefinitely.
The Captain sighed, then called out, "Q!"
The immortal menace appeared immediately. "Kathy, what's wrong? Don't you like this universe?"
"It's nice enough, Q, but I ought to get back to my ship."
"This is your ship," he said innocently.
"You know what I mean. You said you'd send me back when I asked. I'm asking."
"I said if you didn't like it I'd send you back, but I know you like it. I'm omniscient that way."
"And what about her? Doesn't she miss this life - her husband, her crew, her universe?"
"She's happy where she is," was his answer.
"Q, this isn't right. I can't live someone else's life."
"It's your life, Kathy."
"Don't give me that 'unity of the multiverse' garbage, Q. I don't like being an imposter. Send me back to my universe."
"I'm afraid I can't do that."
"Why not? She didn't blow up my ship, did she?"
"You're beautiful when you're angry."
"What's really going on here, Q? Who was she?"
"She was a Kathryn like any other Kathryn. One day her husband asked her if she would do it all over again, and she said yes. 'Loose lips sink ships', as you humans say."
"You sent her there to marry my Chakotay!"
"Jealous, Kathy? I didn't think you were interested in 'your' Chuckles."
"Q, this is low, even for you. Send me back now."
"I love it when you growl." She gave him the Look. He ignored it. "As I said, I'm afraid I can't send you back. You see, you never left. The person you've been impersonating is your future self. This is your life, like it or not. And hers."
A huge dictionary appeared in Q's hand, and he flipped through the pages, muttering. "Ah, here it is... 'omnipotent: almighty; having unlimited or universal power, authority or force; arrant'. How many times do I have to explain this to you, Kathy?"
"What about the differences?"
"What differences?" Q asked.
What were the differences? "My door - it said Janeway." Not a very impressive difference, come to think of it.
"Chuckles needed a last name," Q explained.
"The crew is happy," she retorted.
"Yours is a fickle species."
"The Stardates..." She'd noticed they were off by a few months. Still, she couldn't believe her own universe was this warped, until Q waved a finger. Memories flooded into her mind, making her queasy with deja vu.
When she recovered, she snapped, "Get off my ship, Q."
"You're welcome, Kathy." Q winked as he disappeared.