DISCLAIMER: I own nothing but my imagination in this Star Trek: Voyager / Stargate: Atlantis crossover story. Star Trek: Voyager belongs to Gene Roddenberry, Rick Berman, Michael Piller, Jeri Taylor, Paramount Studios, UPN, Viacom and whoever else owns pieces of the Star Trek franchise. Stargate: Atlantis belongs to MGM, SciFi various individuals and companies and whoever owns them.
SPOILERS: For ST:V and SG:A – to the end of their respective series (although focusing on the first three years of Atlantis). Everything beyond is definitely takes a dive into the wide ocean that is Alt-U.
WARNING: Descriptions of slavery/forced prostitution (nothing graphic); violence; mature themes.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
FEEDBACK: To ladyjanus03[at]yahoo.ca

Be My Homeward Dove
By ladyjanus


Part 2

As soon as they materialise on the transporter platform, B'Elanna starts shouting orders. "Tom, get back here! Medical emergency! Ayala, take the helm—get us out of here. Maximum warp!"

B'Elanna kneels next to Janeway, who is cradling the other woman in her arms, calling her name in the most horribly broken voice.

"Let me take her, captain," B'Elanna says gently. "Please, Kathryn, we have to get her to the bio-bed if we're going to save her."

B'Elanna's words seem to snap Janeway out of her immobility. B'Elanna slips her arms underneath Dar and picks her up; she's surprisingly light for a woman her height. Kathryn rises, carefully holding Dar's head so that it doesn't fall back dangerously.

Tom is already hurrying past them, opening the hatch to the rear compartment and pulling the bio-bed from its recessed alcove. Carefully, he helps B'Elanna transfer the woman onto the bed and begins scanning her with a medical tricorder.

"She and the captain were hit with a blast from some kind of neural disrupter," B'Elanna reports as she hands him the weapon she's retrieved. Turning her attention back to the injured woman, she's shocked to find an openly-weeping Janeway reaching again for Dar's hand.

Paris scans the weapon for a few moments and then hurries to the replicator, quickly ordering a hypospray. Not even attempting to separate their captain from the woman, he steps around to the other side of the bed and dispenses the hypospray's contents against Dar's neck.

Dar suddenly comes to with a pained moan that ends in an agonised gasp and gives way to a sudden seizure.

"Dar!" Kathryn cries hoarsely, attempting to hold the other woman down; B'Elanna can tell that her intrepid captain is nowhere in the room at the moment.

Tom quickly affixes a pair of cortical stimulators to Dar's temples and taps some orders into the bio-bed's console. The seizures stop as suddenly as they'd started and the woman's body quiets down. She whimpers as her eyes fly open. B'Elanna notices that they're jade green with large, unfocused pupils.

"Kathryn," she croaks softly. It's like a prayer, the way she says Janeway's name.

"I'm here, Dar," Kathryn whispers back, bringing her tear-streaked face close to her friend's and stroking the damp, chocolate brown curls.

The woman shakes her head sorrowfully. "Not Dar," she whispers, voice laden with exhaustion. "Not Dar—Elizabeth," she slurs breathily, eyes fluttering shut again. "M' name's Elizabeth … Dr. Elizabeth Weir …"

Chakotay enters sickbay on the run, praying that Kathryn is fine. The Delta Flyer has come in hot with casualties and a small craft in tow. Kim's reported that the captain—and another woman they'd rescued—have been hit by the discharge from a neural disruptor.

After a decade of travelling halfway across the galaxy, he knows that if there is any way Kathryn could have reported, she would have. But neural disruptors are notoriously nasty weapons, and depending on the type, could conceivably turn someone's nervous system to mush.

He stops short as he enters, shocked by the scene. The captain is on her feet arguing with the Doctor. She's barefoot, wearing some sort of see-through lingerie, and seems unconcerned with that fact. Torres stands impotently on the sidelines holding a bundle of light blue clothing. On the bio-bed beneath the main diagnostic cluster, lies a strange, dark-haired woman—apparently unconscious. Paris, who is still in his Klingon disguise, is monitoring her vitals.

"I'm fine!" Kathryn shouts belligerently. "I only caught the edge of the blast. Dar—Elizabeth caught the entire discharge."

"Captain, your friend is holding her own right now," the Doctor says impatiently. "Once this round of neural acclimation therapy is completed, we'll start on the procedure to remove those alien nano-probes from her system and then another round of acclimation therapy to ensure neural stability. But you'll do her no good if you don't allow me to treat your own neural shock!"

"Captain," Torres interjects, stepping quickly between her commanding officer and the Doctor before Kathryn can work up a head of steam again. "Why don't you go and change?" she says, thrusting the bundle of clothes into her surprised captain's arms. "Then once you're ready, you can come back and get Chakotay's report while the Doctor does your check-up."

Kathryn frowns, lips thinning out of existence for a moment before she nods, turns on her heel and marches into the sickbay change room.

As the door snicks shut behind her, Torres turns on the Doctor, face dark with fury. "What the hell do you think you're doing?"

"What?" The doctor takes a step back, shocked by the half-Klingon woman's rage.

"The captain's obviously distraught," Torres bit out, "and you're arguing with her? That woman took a disruptor blast that was meant for the captain," she says pointing to the bio-bed's occupant, "and if you'd take a second to really look at what they're wearing, you'd realise exactly the kind of hellhole we found them in. You'd understand exactly what that motherless targ of a Fen'Domar governor wanted her for!"

Sudden realisation dawns on the Doctor and he nods his head dumbly. Torres takes a deep breath and stalks to the change room entrance. Chakotay follows her in silence; her angry words to the Doctor have shaken him to his core as well.

If Kathryn hadn't recognised Shenloral'fen Aru'nor's intent for Annika and alerted the ship to beam her out of harm's way, it would have been his wife—his pregnant wife—the alien governor would have kidnapped. But Kathryn had lost her combadge in ensuing fight and so she'd been taken instead.


"Not now!" she growls from between clenched teeth, standing at parade rest as she waits for the change room door to open. Considering her for a moment longer, Chakotay assumes the same posture.

Moments later, the door opens and a pale Kathryn Janeway exits, dressed in the blue sickbay tunic and pants. Her red-rimmed eyes are the only things to mar the image of the perfect Starfleet captain.

"Report, commander," she orders quietly, walking over to the bio-bed the Doctor is waiting at.

Chakotay falls into step with her, speaking as they cover the short distance. "There isn't much to report, captain," he replies. She hops up on the bio-bed without acknowledging the Doctor, and sits straight-backed and rigid as he scans her.

"There's no sign of pursuit," Chakotay continues, ignoring the Doctor's presence. "Currently, we're holding at warp 6.8 and we'll continue on the current course with the Cazenchin Traders' caravan until we reach Tontrai, which is approximately eleven light years away—it's the farthest world on the outbound leg of their trade route. Tontrai is five light years from the boarder of the Mija Confederation, which, according to Mistress Holsomi, is much more peaceful than the Fen'Domar Empire. Mistress Holsomi would also like to meet you at your earliest convenience to finalise the trade agreement we made in order to secure her help."

Kathryn raises an eyebrow. "And what agreement might that be?" she demands.

"In return for the credit account they transferred to B'Elanna," he replies, "we've agreed to do some mining for them, as well as traded one quarter of our store of Bocerra Pearls and promised to give her the location of the planet we found them on." He smiles at her surprised expression and shrugs. "It's not like we're ever going to be back this way anytime soon to hold onto our claim. Someone will find it sooner or later."

"I suppose you're right," she admits, her eyes straying to the other sickbay occupant.

"And you're worth more to this crew than a planet full of pearls, Kathryn," he continues softly, and she meets his gaze again in surprise, which gives way to a bright red blush creeping up her neck and across her cheeks.

"Thank you, Chakotay," she said hoarsely, a soft smile hovering on her lips. "Why don't you contact Mistress Holsomi and let her know I can see her in about an hour—"

"Three hours," the Doctor says firmly and she glowers at him. "That's the earliest I'm willing to let you out of here. You might not have caught the full blast this time, but my readings show that you've been shocked repeatedly with a number of lower intensity blasts—"

"Doctor?" The query leaves Chakotay's mouth before he can sensor it; Janeway looks away and fixes her gaze on the floor.

"The residual neural and musculoskeletal trauma is unmistakeable," the emergency medical hologram replies. "It needs to be treated immediately and you need rest, captain."

"Fine," Kathryn says shortly. "Tell Mistress Holsomi I will see her in three hours, commander," she continues and he nods.

A soft groan from the still form on the other bio-bed draws her gaze. She jumps off the bed, ignoring the Doctor's yelp of protest, and hurries to her friend's side.

"Dar—Elizabeth?" she says softly as she strokes the dark brown curls. The woman moans again, struggles feebly. "Shh, it's all right, Elizabeth, you're safe now."

"John!" she calls out, voice frantic with pain and longing. "Where's John? Where is he? Please John ... help me ..." she cries.

Kathryn's face is helpless as she looks down at her friend. "Elizabeth, it's Kathryn," she says hoarsely. "I'm sorry, John's not here, but it's going to be all right, Elizabeth. I'm here—I'm here for you."

"No ... no ... not again ... not again!" Her head thrashes from side to side; Kathryn looks up in misery.

"Doctor," she croaks. "Do something! Help her!"

"Oberoth ... please ... no more," Elizabeth pleads, "no more ..."

"I can't, captain, not yet," the EMH replies gently. "A few more minutes—I need the neural acclimation therapy to run its course and bring her brain's electrotonic activity back to within normal parameters—otherwise she could suffer permanent brain damage. Once that's done, I'll remove the alien nano-probes; they're hyper-stimulating her memory engrams and causing the hallucinations."

"Don't torture me like this, Oberoth," the woman cries, begging, and Chakotay's heart constricts at the utter desolation in her voice. "I know it's not real ... I know it's not real ... she's just another of your tricks. Why do you torture me like this? Why can't you let me go? Why can't you just let me die?"

"It's real, Elizabeth ... I'm real and I'm right here," Kathryn says as she takes one thin, pale hand and strokes it. "It will be all right ... I promise it'll be all right."

"I can't tell you where the city is," she babbles over Kathryn's voice. "I'm compromised ... useless! John and Rodney have hidden it by now—somewhere I know nothing about," she says proudly—almost triumphantly. "You know that! Now that they have the ZPM, it can stay hidden for the next thousand years and I can't tell you where it is even if I wanted to. I never knew where they planned to take it in the first place. It's been moved from Lantea ... the gate address has changed and you'll never find it now, Oberoth. You'll never find it ... you'll never find my beautiful city ... my people ... John will keep my people and my city safe ..."

"Yes, he will," Kathryn assures the woman as she finally slips back into unconsciousness. "I'm sure John will keep your people and your city safe."

Chakotay stands back wondering how the hell you'd move an entire city.

The Doctor lowers the cortical modulation array over the unconscious woman's head. "Captain," he says gently. "We can start the removal of the nano-probes now. Once they're gone, the erratic brain activity and hallucinations should stop. If you'll please step back, I need to put up the isolation field now."

To Chakotay's surprise, Torres is once again at Janeway's side—almost as if she simply materialised there. She puts her arms around the captain's shoulders, leads her back to bio-bed and coaxes her to lie down.

When the hell did B'Elanna get so friendly with Kathryn? So intimate… he wonders.

When Kathryn awakens, it's with a start and a wordless cry as the fog of a nightmare dissipates. The lights are dim, but she recognises immediately that she's still in sickbay. Sitting up, she taps her code into the bio-bed's computer console; the time is now 1952 hours, which means that she's been asleep for over five hours.

The Doctor's soft voice comes out of the darkness from the other side of sickbay. "Ah, captain, I see you're awake." He bustles over to her, calling for the lights to be brought up to twenty-five percent as he scans her with a medical tricorder. "Well, your electrochemical balance and your neurolytic levels have been restored," he reports quietly. "You'll be a little tired for the next day or so, but fighting fit in no time."

"Thank you, Doctor," she says, feeling more centered—feeling like the Captain for the first time in days. "I had a meeting scheduled this afternoon with the leader of the merchant caravan, Mistress Holsomi—"

"I know," he replies gazing thoughtfully at her. "I took the liberty of asking Commander Chakotay to postpone it for a day or so—you needed to rest and I'd like you to stay here overnight," he explains, quickly averting her protest. "Your system may not have been as badly damaged as your friend's, but you still sustained quite a bit of trauma, captain—not to mention, emotionally, you're not entirely yourself."

Kathryn's not sure how to respond to that, so she looks down at the floor as she tries to rein in the feeling of acute embarrassment.

"How is Elizabeth?" she asks, deliberately moving the conversation away from her emotional control—or lack thereof.

"She's doing well, resting comfortably," he says, bringing up her vitals on Kathryn's bed console. "The alien nano-probes have been eliminated and the aberrant activity in her brain is dissipating—her memory engrams are returning to normal. I used some of Species 8472 anti-assimilation proteins to render the nano-probes inert—after which it was a simple matter to flush them from her body. It's really quite an ingenious and effective therapy, if I do say so myself. The only evidence of the nano-probes is the artificial nanocytes that bridge some damaged areas of her brain, as well as the repairs elsewhere in her body. I believe that the nano-probes were used to repair her brain and the damaged areas of her body after an accident, but for some reason, they were not removed after the job was done. The high-intensity discharge from the weapon must have activated them, and perhaps corrupted their programming. In any case, they're gone now and she should regain consciousness by tomorrow morning. However, I'd like to keep her here for at least another two days for observation. There'll be some residual neuromuscular weakness, but that should dissipate within the week. Do you have any idea of who she is?"

Kathryn shakes her head as she studies the sleeping woman. "She was reluctant to speak about her past and the only name she gave me while we were being … held … was 'Dar'. It's the only thing anyone there ever called her. Only after the rescue—just before she slipped into unconsciousness—did she tell me that her name was Dr. Elizabeth Weir."

The Doctor's face brightens. "A medical doctor?" he asks excitedly.

"I don't think so," Kathryn replies thoughtfully. "I think it's an academic title, but there's no way to know for sure until we can ask her. However, she gave no indication she's had any medical training beyond basic first aid, and at one point—when I asked how she knew the Fen'Domar language so well—she said that she used to be a linguist and a diplomat."

The voices are soft … so terribly far away as she tries to discern what they're saying; it's like she's underwater listening to a conversation happening on the surface.

The first man's voice is somehow familiar to her, but in an almost unwelcome way. She knows that she's heard those strident tones before, and she knows that she doesn't much care for them.

The male speaking now is one she's heard say softly … intimately, "You're worth more to this crew than a planet full of pearls, Kathryn."

Kathryn. The woman's voice is the one she wants to hear more than anything—the one thing she wants to be real more than anything else.

"Kathryn!" she gasps out as memory comes flooding back.

The familiar hands are on her instantly, holding her shoulders down with gentle pressure. Kathryn's face floats above her, clear blue eyes caring and anxious.

"Elizabeth, you're awake," she says, brushing Elizabeth's hair back from her face.

"Kathryn," Elizabeth cries, unable to stop the tears that well up and spill over. "Is it really you? Oh God, is any of this real?"

"It's real," Kathryn reassures her, gently squeezing her hand. "I promise you it's all real. We're on my ship, Voyager."

Elizabeth wants desperately to believe her, but one of the men comes into her field of view and that fragile hope is shattered.

She pulls her hand out of Kathryn's grasp and shrinks away from her as the other woman's expression dissolves into puzzlement.

"Then what is he doing here if this isn't another trick?" Elizabeth asks in a low, angry voice.

"Who? Commander Chakotay?" Kathryn asks in confusion, and for the first time, Elizabeth notices the tall, handsome, broad-shouldered man with the exotic tattoo over his left eye. "He's my First Officer—my second in command … remember?"

"No, him!" she replies, and points to the balding man wearing a uniform similar to Kathryn and her commander, but with blue shoulders instead of red. "What is Richard Woolsey of the IOA doing here?"

Kathryn's confusion doesn't abate. "I don't know who this Richard Woolsey is or what IOA stands for, but this is Voyager's doctor," she replies. "Remember the Emergency Medical Hologram I mentioned?"

As Elizabeth nods warily, Kathryn turns to the man and gestures to the small device attached to his sleeve; the man nods with a resigned expression. She taps the device and removes it. Woolsey's doppelganger disappears and an involuntary cry escapes from Elizabeth's throat.

"The Doctor cannot exist anywhere there are no holographic emitters or without his mobile emitter," Kathryn continues as she holds the device up to Elizabeth's scrutiny. She taps its controls again and the holographic man reappears. "I don't know why he resembles your Mr. Woolsey, but he's basically a computer program."

"A very sophisticated computer program, captain, with the knowledge of over five hundred of the Federation's finest physicians," the hologram sniffs with an injured air and the tall commander stifles a chuckle, meeting Elizabeth's gaze with twinkling eyes.

"Yes, of course, doctor," Kathryn murmurs, patting his shoulder in a rather strange attempt to mollify the injured computer program.

"As for why I might look like your Mr. Woolsey, Dr. Weir," he says as he taps something into a computer console and turns the screen so Elizabeth can see it; a picture of an older, grumpier version of the holographic doctor is on it. "That's simple—if rather coincidental, and not to mention bizarre—I was modeled after my creator, an engineer named Dr. Louis Zimmerman."

"And why would Dr. Zimmerman look like Elizabeth's Mr. Woolsey, doctor?" Kathryn asks impatiently.

The holographic man taps another command into the console and the picture of a familiar bespectacled face comes up on the screen. Richard Woolsey is wearing a black pinstripe suit, with a white shirt and a blue and yellow striped tie, peering at the camera with a pinched, annoyed look Elizabeth knows all too well.

"This is Dr. Colin Richard Woolsey," the holographic doctor says smirking at their disbelieving faces. "He's an ancestor of Louis Zimmerman's—and a rather famous one at that. He worked for an international aid organization called Helping Hands: Healers without Nations."

Elizabeth gapes at the picture in shock, trying to wrap her mind around the idea of the annoying, bureaucratic Woolsey as an altruistic doctor-without-boarders type!

"My question, Dr. Weir, is how you would know him?" the doctor continued. "Considering Colin Richard Woolsey was born in 1955 and died at the beginning of the Twenty-first Century—August 9, 2017 to be precise.


"That went well." Harry Kim's sardonic voice is full of laughter as a force field slams up, surrounding the alien shuttle like a second skin, and blocking Tom Paris' attempt to touch it.

"Damn it!" Paris growls shaking the hand that received the shock from the force field; he looks like he wants to kick the small, cylindrical craft.

"It's actively blocking our scans," Kim continues, smirking at his friend's frustration. "We don't have the time to spend making a concentrated effort to break through, so I guess B'Elanna will just have to rely on the transporter scans for the report and simply wait for the captain's friend to wake up."

"Guess so," his friend replies sullenly.

Kim laughs and heads towards the shuttle bay doors. "Come on, Tom," the younger man chuckles. "I don't want to be late for morning briefing." Paris shoots him an annoyed look as he follows.

In the turbolift, Kim glances over his report, trying to keep from laughing again as his best friend stews.

"A hyper ship," he rants. "A bloody hyper ship practically drops in my lap and I can't even get a foot in the front door!"

"A putative hyper ship." Kim takes pleasure in correcting him. "The captain says we won't know anything more until Dr. Weir wakes up, but B'Elanna's analysis of the transporter scans is certainly suggestive."

Paris gives another frustrated growl and Kim loses his battle against his laughter. "It's not funny," Paris says petulantly.

"Oh yes it is! You're acting like a three-year-old! In fact, your three-year-old is probably acting more mature than you are at this moment!"

Paris glares at him, but can't stay angry as his own sense of the ridiculous takes over and he joins his friend's laughter as the turbolift stops and opens onto the bridge.

B'Elanna and Tuvok are already in the briefing room when they enter; the Vulcan security chief raises an elegantly slanted eyebrow at their mirth, which stokes their hilarity even more.

"I take it you couldn't get into the shuttle," B'Elanna chuckles.

"Damn thing slammed up something like a level ten force field when I tried to touch it!" Paris grouses, flexing the fingers as he remembers the shock.

"Aw, poor baby," his wife teases in mock sympathy as she inspects his injured limb. "Want me to kiss it and make it all better?"

Tuvok's dry, sombre tones cut through the levity. "Might I remind you, commander, lieutenant, the briefing room is not the place for public displays of marital bonding or romantic banter?"

"Huh?" Paris says in confusion, his attention more on B'Elanna than his surroundings.

"He means quit flirting you two," Kim laughingly translates as Chakotay arrives with a visibly pregnant Annika. The first officer helps his wife get settled in her seat and then turns his attention to the other senior officers.

"Alright everyone, settle down; the captain and the doctor will be here shortly with our guest."

"She's awake?" Kim asks, excitement bubbling over.

"Since the captain would hardly bring an unconscious woman to a briefing, it is only logical to assume that she must be awake, lieutenant," Tuvok intones.

Harry Kim glowers, squelching the urge to do something childish, like stick his tongue out at the logical Vulcan. Paris has no such compunction and just manages to get the offending protrusion back in his mouth when the whine of the transporter announces the arrival of the captain, the EMH, and the tall brunette Harry has last seen singing The Lady of Shallot in the window of an alien brothel.

He quickly turns his mind from that uncomfortable memory as the doctor settles the obviously weak woman into the seat nearest Janeway on the left, while everyone quickly take their seats.

Janeway takes charge immediately. "Let's get started; first of all, thank you to everyone for getting me … getting us out of there—and not a moment too soon," she said quietly.

"We're glad to have you home again, captain," Harry blurts out before he can sensor himself, and blushes hotly as his friends enjoy a laugh at his expense.

"Harry is right captain," Tom says coming to his rescue, "everyone is just glad to have you back safe and sound."

Janeway smiles fondly at them. "And I'm very happy to be home again," she replies simply, sincerely. "Thank you." She takes a deep breath and turns to smile at their guest. "As you all know, this is Dr. Elizabeth Weir. Dr. Weir, I'd like you to meet my senior officers. You already know Commander Chakotay and the Doctor; so allow me to introduce Lieutenant Commander Tuvok, Voyager's chief of security," she says gesturing to each in turn. "Lieutenant Commander B'Elanna Torres, chief engineer, our chief conn officer, Lieutenant Tom Paris, operations officer, Lieutenant Harry Kim and Annika Hansen, our chief of astrometrics."

There is a chorus of "hellos" and "welcomes", to which the woman replies, "Hello," in a low, velvety alto.

"Okay, now to the reports," Janeway continues briskly. "Lieutenant Kim?"

Harry looks up at his captain, startled. "Yes captain?"

"Your report?"

Harry stares at her for a beat, confused as to why she needed his report—the woman is awake now. They can just ask her for her information. However, the captain's penetrating stare disabuses him of any notion of making that suggestion.

"Yes captain," he replies looking down at the PADD in his hands. "Ah … I've located seventeen individuals in our databases over the last four hundred years named Elizabeth Weir … or – or some variation on that name. Only two were doctors of any kind. The closest one to our timeframe, Dr. Elisabetta Leoni Weir, was a neuroscientist at the Vega Colony—born in 2114 died at the age of ninety-four in 2208, while the other was a Canadian mathematician who was born in 2022 and died in 2053 at the age of thirty-one at the start of the Third World War—"

The woman at the other side of the table draws a sharp breath. "Dr. Roberta Elizabeth Weir," Kim continues as she looks down at her hands.

"Did any of the individuals you found live during the latter half of the Twentieth Century?" Janeway asks and again Kim's head whips up in surprise; he can see his own confusion mirrored on his friends' faces as well, while Tuvok's eyebrows crawl towards his hairline.

"Ah … yes, captain," he replies scrambling through his data. "There were three that we were able to locate—an Irish lawyer born in 1948, Beth-Ann Weir; ah … an American musician and composer of some note born in 1939, Elizabeth Clara Bonner, who—when she married—went by the name Clara Weir."

"And the third individual named Elizabeth Weir from that era?" Janeway prompts, glancing at her friend's pale face.

"Clara Weir's daughter, captain—Elizabeth Siobhan Weir," Harry replies. "Note of her existence was included in her mother's biographical information from the Smithsonian Music Archives. Born October 14, 1970, she died on July 8, 1976 in a traffic accident with her mother …" Harry's voice trails off as the woman on his captain's left, drops her face into her hands, sobbing uncontrollably.

Janeway rises and kneels by her friend's chair, drawing her unresisting into her arms as she cries. "Just remember, she isn't you," Janeway says quietly and the other woman nods. After a few moments, she pushes out of the captain's embrace and dries her eyes with shaking fingers.

"Captain, are you saying that this Elizabeth Weir was born in the Twentieth Century?" Paris asks, staring at the woman in astonishment.

"Yes," Janeway replies, resuming her seat. "Just not our Twentieth Century, Tom. The Doctor has found evidence that Dr. Weir has not only travelled through time, but may have passed through the fundamental axes of at least two other omnicordial universes to get here."

"That would explain the some of the strange quantum readings from the hull of her craft," Annika says as B'Elanna murmurs thoughtfully in agreement.

"Then while the Elizabeth Siobhan Weir from our past died at the age of five," Paris muses, "this Elizabeth Siobhan Weir grew up, somehow acquired a hyper space shuttle, crossed a few universes and ends up in our present?"

"This Elizabeth Siobhan Weir is sitting right here," the woman in question says from between clenched teeth, green eyes flashing with annoyance. "And she can speak for herself."

"My apologies, Dr. Weir," Paris says quickly, embarrassed and contrite. "I meant no disrespect."

"The p'taq just needs to learn how to think before he speaks," Torres growls scowling at her husband.

As quickly as Weir's annoyance appears, it disappears just as quickly as she turns to Janeway and says in a low, amused voice, "They're married, aren't they?"

A smile breaks over Janeway's face like the sun coming out from behind dark clouds. "Yes, they are," the captain replies. "How did you know?"

"Only a wife can get that much love into that much anger," the other woman chuckles, and Paris goes beet red as B'Elanna's skin flushes a darker shade.

Harry is still snickering at his friends as Janeway takes control of the briefing again. "All kidding aside, Elizabeth, we really do need to know how a late Twentieth—early Twenty-first Century woman comes to be inside an FTL-capable ship … even if she does hail from a few universes over," the captain says.

The humour drains from the other woman's face, like water flowing out of a vessel. "I don't know if I can explain," she says in a low, hard voice. "I don't even know if any of you—if any of this is even real! This could all be another bloody, ai ya jwai leh trick!"

Harry stares at her, shock banishing his humour. "Dr. Weir!"

Her head snaps up to meet his gaze; her shock mirrors his own, and suddenly a high, almost hysterical, giggle escapes her. She drops her head in her hand again and begins muttering in an entirely incomprehensible language. Harry is sure she's still swearing.

Weir rises and begins to pace; the senior officers look to Janeway in askance, but she nods at them to remain in their seats, before returning her attention to the agitated woman.

"Hakorr kra terak shree!" Weir shouts, banging her fists against the viewport as if screaming at the very universe. "Depet reshwet herew!"

Then suddenly she stops, squares her shoulders and turns from her reflection in the viewport. "My apologies, Lieutenant Kim," she says quietly, folding her arms across her chest. "Bad habits—when I swear, I tend to do so in other languages."

"You speak Mandarin Chinese, ma'am?" he asks curiously.

Her lips pull into a small smile. "Only enough to swear with, Lieutenant," she replies. "And order alcohol—I can order alcohol in twenty-five languages and counting."

Harry can't help but laugh, infecting the others—even Janeway, whose lips twitch and eyes sparkle with definite amusement.

"You've gotta have a skill, Mr. Kim," Weir says chuckling softly. "In this life, everyone's gotta have a skill."

"And the other language our translator is making hash of?" Janeway asks the other woman.

Weir sobers immediately. "Goa'uld," she replies. "It's the language of the Goa'uld—and you don't know what the hell I'm talking about do you?"

"I'm afraid not," Janeway says quietly. "Who are these Goa'uld?"

"And I bet you've never heard of the Tok'ra, the Jaffa, the Nox, the Unas, the Tollan, the Ori, the Anquietas, or the Asgard, have you?" Weir continues, ignoring Janeway's question.


"The only Asgard I know about is the place in Norse mythology where Valhalla resides," Harry says thoughtfully.

"See, that's why I'm having a hard time believing any of this is real—that it's not another trick by Oberoth," she grounds out in frustration. "I mean some of these species were major powers in my Milky Way galaxy—even the Ori have had a huge impact in a relatively short period of time—so why aren't they a part of yours? Could you really have lost all knowledge of them, yet you'd hang onto the record of a five-year-old girl who died in a traffic accident four hundred years ago?"

"To what end would we try to trick you, Dr. Weir?" Tuvok asks calmly.

"I don't know—you tell me, Mr. Tuvok," she retorts. "All I know is that every goddamn time I wake up believing I got away from that sadistic mikta of a Replicator, it's all been a nanite-induced hallucination and I'm right back in a cell with that machine's hand shoved inside my brain!"

"A machine's hand shoved inside your brain?" Chakotay's voice is rather faint.

"Replicator?" Annika asks at the same time.

Weir resumes her seat and drops her head into her hands again. "Gods," she whispers, scrubbing her face.

"If this is a hallucination, then shouldn't we know everything you do?" Janeway asks gently.

"You'd think so, wouldn't you?" she replies; her voice is hollow and tired.

Janeway rises and moves towards the room's replicator. "You look like you can do with something to drink, Elizabeth," she says. "Would you like a cup of coffee?"

The other woman starts at the sudden change in topic. "Sure—black if you have it."

"Computer, two cups of coffee—black," Captain Janeway says holding Weir's gaze as the beverages materialise in the alcove. As the woman's eyes widen, she continues with a smile, "And a plate of chocolate chip cookies."

Placing the plate of cookies and one of the cups in front of Weir, she retrieves her own cup and sits down again. "That—Dr. Weir—is what we consider to be a replicator. It's a machine that will produce food ... clothing ... toys for our children … components to repair our ship—provided the molecular pattern is in its database. It's the culmination of four hundred years of technology, building on simple protein re-sequencers, and food and industrial synthesisers of the past. Now what do you mean when you speak about a replicator and why would one have his hand in your brain?"

As Weir remains silent, sipping her coffee—savouring the taste and inhaling the heady aroma—Chakotay says quietly, "If this were a hallucination, then this Oberoth would already have this information, wouldn't he, Dr. Weir?"

Weir's voice is hoarse when she speaks again. "Built by a race of ancient humanoid aliens over ten thousand years ago, the Replicators are cybernetic organisms constructed entirely of nanites and were intended to be a weapon against a terrible enemy called the Wraith. For some reason, they didn't work out quite as planned and the Anquietas—or the Ancients as we came to know them—abandoned the project and tried to wipe them out. But some survived, replicated and built a society based on the Ancients.

"Flash-forward ten thousand years, and we Humans are looking for allies and weapons to fight this same enemy that defeated the Ancients and drove them to near extinction. My expedition had accidentally awakened the Wraith and they spread across the peg—the stars like a plague of locusts, feeding on entire worlds. They can literally suck the life out of a Human being, leaving behind only the withered husk of a corpse."

She waves to the streaking warp-star effect in the viewport and laughs bitterly. "We went out there and found bloody space vampires, if you can believe that. Except they're worse than anything Bram Stoker ever imagined." She laughs harshly again. "Granted, the first time we went out there, we found a bunch of parasitic megalomaniacal snakes that had taken up lodging in the heads of humans they'd kidnapped from Earth and were masquerading as ancient Egyptian and other old Earth gods. Of course we also found some powerful benevolent beings both corporeal and non-corporeal—some of whom were these Ancients ascended to a higher plane of existence—but most had this policy of non-interference in the lives of lower beings. Then of course there were the higher beings that thought they were gods and that all lower forms of life should worship them—anyone who wouldn't, they killed with a plague, or by sterilisation, or by simply destroying entire planets!"

Kim jumps, startled by her sudden shout; the members of the senior staff stare at Weir in disbelief as she continues her rambling narration.

"So that brings us up to date on the Goa'uld—the bad parasitic snakes posing as Egyptian gods, for those of you keeping a scorecard; the Tok'ra, good parasitic snakes opposing the Goa'uld; the Asgard—powerful corporeal beings who became our allies and protected us to a point; the Nox—powerful corporeal beings who wanted nothing to do with us violent children; the Ascended ones or the Others—powerful non-corporeal beings who claim to adhere to non-interference, but as corporeal Ancients, left a lot of dangerous toys strewn across the bloody universe; and the Ori—powerful non-corporeal beings—cousins to the Ancients … probably the same species. The Ori felt it was their place to bring the ultimate order to the universe with a religion they called Origin and in which they're the only gods who should be worshipped. Anyone who resisted, or got in the way, was summarily exterminated."

The coldness in her voice sends chills up Kim's back.

"But back to my favourite subject, the Wraith. In our desperation to find help fighting them, my little band of explorers stumbled across an advanced city on a planet called Asuras, populated by people we thought were corporeal Ancients—except they weren't. They were Replicators and in the millennia since they'd been abandoned, they'd developed a deep hatred for Ancients and Humans that surpassed even their programmed animosity for the Wraith.

"We went looking for allies and only made everything a thousand times worse—made another set of enemies intent on destroying us. By the time we realised what they were—how malevolent they were—we barely escaped, but not before one of them infected me with nanites. Nanites that then proceeded to dig their way into my brain trying to take me over. My CMO, Dr. Carson Beckett, weakened them enough for me to break free of their influence and made them go dormant before they could make a total hash of my mind. But by that time, they'd dug in and hunkered down, and we couldn't get them out of my head without killing me, or at best, turning me into a drooling idiot.

"Flash-forward another couple of months, and I nearly get myself blown to bits. My chief scientist, Dr. Rodney McKay, gets the bright idea that he can save my life by reactivating the nanites—reprogramming them to repair Humpty Dumpty and unscramble the egg that was supposed to be my brain. Presto! It works like a charm and here I am, good as new, except that the tricky buggers aren't about to vacate their new digs—my body is dependent on them to keep doing things like ... oh thinking, breathing and consequently living."

Her face is cold and her voice bitingly sarcastic as she continues, "Then surprise … surprise … surprise! Rodney can't figure out how to make them hand over those functions and get out of my head, or at least shut down again. So I wake up to find myself turned into a half-Replicator cyborg and I'm in isolation in my own sickbay, with one of my best friends and colleagues standing on the outside with a kill switch in his hand."

The silence is overwhelming as Voyager's crew assimilates her little rant. As it stretches out, Elizabeth begins to feel increasingly uncomfortable.

"And now I suppose you'll want to haul me off to your brig," she says tiredly.

Janeway regards her in surprise. "Whatever for?"

"I doubt you want some demented cyborg running around your ship!" Elizabeth replies bitterly.

The alien woman, B'Elanna Torres, barks a harsh laugh that startles her. "Been there!"

"Done that!" Kathryn chuckles, shocking Elizabeth even more.

"Even brought a couple home and domesticated them, didn't we, Chakotay?" Torres says and they all laugh as Kathryn's second in command blushes under his golden tan.

Suddenly the metal accoutrements on the pregnant blonde's face stand out in stark relief as she holds Elizabeth's gaze. Her breath catches in her throat as the young woman lifts her left hand from her swollen belly and places it on the table. Grey metal outlines her fingers, which she flexes to send thin metallic tubules writhing towards Elizabeth like blind worms.

A wordless cry escapes her throat and she instinctively shoves her chair violently away from the table, nearly tipping it over in her panic to get away.

"Annika, enough," Kathryn says in a low voice that is unmistakeably an order. The young woman nods and retracts the tubules.

"In this reality, we have our own enemies to contend with as well, Elizabeth," the captain of Voyager continues, her blue eyes holding Elizabeth rooted to the spot. "One of them is the Borg, a group of cybernetic beings intent on turning all other biological beings and their technological accomplishments to their collective purpose; the perfection of the Borg. They captured Annika and her parents when she was six years old, assimilated them into their Collective using nano-probes—or nanites—melding the biological with the technological to turn them into cyborg drones, virtual automatons without independent minds or will—"

Elizabeth stares at the young woman in horror, unable to fathom a six-year-old going through something like that.

"Oh God," she whispers, unable to control the tears rolling down her face. "Oh God, I'm sorry."

"It's all right, Dr. Weir," Annika says quietly. "Six years ago, the captain severed my connection to the Borg. In time, my human physiology, emotions and sense of individuality reasserted themselves. Obviously, I couldn't be made fully human; my body had been dependent on Borg technology for so long that I couldn't survive without it, but I am human in all that matters," she said smiling, resting her technologically enhanced hand on her pregnant belly again.

Elizabeth nods wordlessly, unable to say anything. Kathryn moves over to their replicator and orders a container of tissues. When it materialises in the alcove, she hands it to Elizabeth saying gently, "We also have two other former Borg on board; a teenaged boy and a little girl about five years old. However, since they were juveniles when we found them, the process wasn't complete, so they both have varying levels of technological enhancements. However, their reliance on it isn't quite as extensive as Annika's. There had been three other children, twin boys and another little girl, but a few years ago, we found the boys' people and since the girl, Mezotti, wanted to go with them, all three were resettled among the Wysanti."

Elizabeth turns again to the window, watching the stars streak by as she dries her eyes and wipes her nose. It's like no hyperspace phenomenon she's ever witnessed. When she speaks again, she surprises even herself.

"I suppose there are worse things than being a nanite-infested, half-Replicator cyborg."

"But you're not." The doctor's voice jerks Elizabeth around like a physical tether and she stares at him, uncomprehending. "You're not a cyborg, Dr. Weir—at least technically not any more."

She can feel herself literally shaking with the effort it takes to keep from collapsing under the weight of hope bearing down on her. "What the hell do you mean by that? The nanites—"

"Have been removed," the doctor continues. "I didn't have a chance to explain before you left sickbay, but the nanites had finished healing you—quite some time ago from my scans. I believe that they've been dormant since you entered this reality, and the high-intensity energy discharge from the neural disrupter not only reactivated them after a fashion, but also probably damaged their programming. The damage caused them to start randomly accessing the last memory engrams they'd been involved with, causing you to relive those memories of torture. The only things that really might be construed as cyborg are the nanocytes they created to rebuild the damaged areas of your brain, but those are organic, even though they're clearly artificial in origin."

"Nanocytes?" she croaks, barely grasping at what he's talking about; Kathryn catches her as her knees begin to buckle and helps her back to her seat.

"They're cells the nanites created to augment, and in some cases, replace your damaged neurons—as well as the cells of other damaged tissues elsewhere in your body."

"And they're artificial, yet organic?" she says in disbelief.

Kathryn's chuckles are soft, her face warm and understanding as she resumes her seat. "I believe by the early Twenty-first Century, you were just starting to get into genetic manipulation."

"That's right," Elizabeth replies.

"And you could take one organism and introduce genetic elements from another," she continues. "Or manipulate their genome to fix a defective gene."

Elizabeth nods again, recalling Carson Beckett's hit and miss success at inoculating members of the expedition with copies of the Ancient Technology Activation gene. "That technology was still in its infancy—it didn't always work."

"But the point is that you could do it," Kathryn replies. "That's similar what the nano-probes—sorry nanites—did. They built new cells very similar to your own neurons; they would have to be to fit into the neural scaffolding underlying human memory engrams, but like most machines, they used the most efficient means possible. They decided to fix whatever they probably saw as inefficient or defective in human brain cells—whatever they didn't need for those cells … whatever genetic baggage or holdovers from earlier life forms we share our evolutionary heritage with … they eliminated them where they could and still have a living, functioning cell. That's how the Doctor can tell that they're artificial, because of what's missing or has been added to those cells, but they are living, organic cells. Because of it, your memory will probably function better than the human norm, as will your ability to retrieve specific memories, but as far as we can tell, that's about the extent of the changes, where your brain is concerned, that is."

As Elizabeth struggles to assimilate Kathryn's incredible explanation, she latches onto the only thing she can make immediate sense of.

"Where my brain is concerned—there are other changes?" she asks faintly.

"You suffered multiple injuries, therefore the nanites repaired them as well," her friend replies. "In fact, I think that before they were ... weaponised—so to speak—by your Ancients, in their earliest form, they were probably medical tools. That's generally the reason why many cultures develop nanites in the first place. And if what I suspect is true, then they've probably fixed any old injuries, scars, birth defects that you might have had."

Almost of its own volition, Elizabeth's hand automatically reaches for her right knee; feeling for the raised scar that she realised had disappeared after she woke up in Fen'Domar custody. It was one of the things that made her afraid that this was just another Replicator-induced fantasy.

"During UN negotiations in Afghanistan in the late nineties, I was kidnapped," she whispers, staring into the past. "The leader of the kidnappers broke my kneecap as an object lesson to my superior. When they didn't get what they wanted, they killed him—I ... I thought I was next. American Marines got me out in time. When I woke up here, I noticed that the scars were gone and I'd regained my full range of mobility; I assumed the Fen'Domar had repaired me. Many of them—especially among the ruling class—have a cultural thing about scars and visible injuries."

"I see."

Kathryn's voice is full of gentle understanding and at this moment, for some irrational reason, Elizabeth just wants to run from it.

"I think I'd like to rest now," she says abruptly and cringes inwardly from the startled look that flashes into Kathryn's blue eyes.

After a beat, Voyager's captain pushes to the fore again, relegating Elizabeth's friend to the back of her mind. Elizabeth wonders if her own command facade had been as disconcerting to her friends back in Atlantis as Kathryn's is to her now.

"I'm sorry if we've tired you," the captain says. "I'll have the doctor escort you back—"

Elizabeth shuts her eyes, willing back the tears that threaten to overwhelm her barriers. "Please," she whispers. "I don't want to go back to sickbay."

"Captain—" the doctor began.

Small, slim fingers wrap around Elizabeth's, warming them as she clings to this lifeline.

"Dr. Weir is wearing a cortical monitor," Elizabeth hears Kathryn say, averting the doctor's argument. "I think that should be sufficient for now, Doctor. If there's an emergency, it should alert you and you can transport her directly to sickbay."

"Yes captain." There is repressed disapproval in the hologram's voice, and she fights the urge to laugh; he's a hologram ... a bloody computer program! And he sounds so much like Woolsey.

"All right everyone, dismissed," Kathryn says firmly. Elizabeth tries to tune out the activity around her as Voyager's officers prepare to leave the briefing room.

"What about her shuttlecraft, captain?" Tom Paris asks; Elizabeth hears the eagerness in his voice. "We can't access it—perhaps Dr. Weir can tell us how?"

"You might as well dump it if space is an issue," she answers before Kathryn can speak. "I stole it from the Asurans when I made my escape. Only the nanites allowed me to interface with its controls. If the Doctor has truly eradicated them, then there's no way for me to access the shuttle's systems."

"I see." Paris' disappointment is acute. "Thank you, Dr. Weir."

No one says anything more as they leave. She hears the door snick shut and, in the sudden stillness, if it were not for the warm hand in her own, she would believe herself alone. Again, the tears come, and Kathryn pulls her, unresisting, into her embrace. Her head rests against the heavy fabric of Kathryn's uniform covering her belly, and Elizabeth is sure her tears have soaked clear through the cloth. Voyager's captain doesn't say anything, just strokes her hair and back as she cries.

An interminable time later, when her tears have ceased to fall, she hears Kathryn say hoarsely, "I've assigned you quarters in the forward section on deck three, just down the corridor from my quarters. Would you like to see them now?"

Elizabeth pulls away, feeling a little embarrassed as she dries her eyes. Taking a deep breath to steady herself, she replies, "That … that would be great."

"All right; stand next to me," Kathryn says with a gentle smile. As Elizabeth rises and does as she's bid, Janeway calls out, "Computer, initiate site to site transport of Captain Kathryn Janeway and Dr. Elizabeth Weir to quarters assigned to Dr. Weir on my mark; authorization Janeway alpha-six-four-seven-delta. Mark."

Again, Elizabeth is caught up in that strange tingling sensations of Voyager's transporter; as her body solidifies in her new quarters, she notices that it's not nearly as disorienting as ring transport or even the Asgard transport device.

They materialise in what is obviously the living room; the colour scheme is a bland mix of grey, tan and other earthy hues. In one corner, she recognises a glass-topped desk with a small, laptop-sized computer console.

"... bedroom and bathroom ..." Janeway's voice trails off and Elizabeth realises that she hasn't heard a word the other woman has said since entering the room. "Elizabeth, is something wrong?"

She shakes her head and offers a wan smile. "No, just woolgathering. Actually, I was just noticing how little disorientation I've experienced using your transportation device compared to some others I've used in the past."

Kathryn's lips tugged into a rueful smile. "I'm glad to hear it," she replies. "And I'd be interested to hear more about those technologies when you're ready—not to mention my science and engineering teams."

Elizabeth nods as she moves into the bedroom. "I don't know how much help I can be on that front," she says, eyeing the queen-sized bed. "I was a diplomat and linguist—I haven't the first clue when it comes to science." Laughing softly, she continues, "Frankly, whenever Carson, Rodney or Dr. Zelenka had to make a report, I had to fight to get them to use words that someone with only a tenth grade science education could follow. Eventually, by the time I left Earth, I ended up buying a set of Idiot's Guides to freshman biology, chemistry and elementary physics."

A realisation slashes through her laughter, catching it in her throat. Kathryn's smile gives way to puzzlement at her sudden change in mood, and Elizabeth turns away from her friend, making her way back into the living room.

"Actually, I'm not going to be much use to you at all," she sighs, sitting down on the couch and drawing her knees up beneath her chin. The strange, streaking-stars effect is oddly soothing as she gazes out the panoramic window. "With your translator technology, you'd hardly need a linguist, and everything else on this ship is going to be way over my head. About the only place I might be useful is in the kitchen, but with your replicator technology, I'm guessing you don't have much call for a cook of limited abilities."

"What makes you think that?" Kathryn laughs heartily, startling Elizabeth out of the miasma of depression and self-doubt that had just begun to settle about her like a mind-deadening fog. "I have great need for a cook whose culinary skills surpasses her skill with a bad pun. Right now, in Voyager's mess hall, I have a self-appointed Bolian cook whose alimentary tract is lined with a cartilaginous tissue that allows him to drink litres of acid and eat some of the most vile—and not to mention, caustic—creations known to sentient, carbon-based beings."

Elizabeth stares at her in shock and confusion as she continues, chuckling softly. "So you can imagine how different his taste buds are compared to that of the average humanoid. In the last three years, the Doctor has managed to impress on him the need for nutrition and un-ulcerated stomachs, which is rather impressive, considering he never managed to get my last cook—a rather hairy, but loveable Talaxian named Neelix, who had a penchant for tear-inducing spices—to come to the same conclusion in the seven years he was aboard Voyager."

Elizabeth can't help but be affected by the ludicrous story and the sparkle in Kathryn's eyes. Janeway's laughter is infectious and soon Elizabeth is laughing also.

"But why would you need a cook at all?" she gasps out, trying to bring her laughter under control. "Your replicators—"

"Require energy to operate," Kathryn finishes soberly as she holds Elizabeth's gaze. Suddenly, reality crashes in and things don't seem quite so funny. "As do all systems on this ship—so that energy must be rationed and has been for the last decade. Everyone gets a set number of replicator rations each month to do with as they please—some use them for food, others for personal items and endure the meals in the mess hall. Me ... I use mine mostly on coffee," she says chuckling softly. "So, if you truly want to be my cook, Elizabeth, then I'll welcome you into my kitchen with open arms, no matter how limited your culinary repertoire."

Elizabeth can only nod mutely as Kathryn continues. "Of course, I do have an opening for an experienced diplomat—an ambassador, if you will," she says holding Elizabeth's gaze again.

"I don't understand."

"Ten years ago when we were stranded, we met two wonderful people; an Ocampan named Kes—a beautiful fairy sprite of a girl—and my outrageous, but affable roly-poly Talaxian cook, Neelix, who was completely besotted with Kes."

Kathryn chuckles again, but her eyes sparkle with unshed tears. "I swear, if Kes had thought it a good idea to steer his little ship into a star, Neelix would have said "yes dear" and done exactly that. Anyway, she wanted to see the galaxy before her life was over and he wanted whatever she wanted." At Elizabeth's obvious confusion, she explains with a shrug. "The Ocampa are the mayflies of the humanoid world—most only live nine standard years from birth to death."

"Nine years?" Elizabeth's voice is filled with dismay and horror.

"Nine years," Kathryn repeats with a sad smile. "She was just about a year old when we first met and she wanted to explore the universe, so she began working in sickbay with the Doctor, while Neelix acted as our guide, cook, and ultimately ambassador. Eventually, Kes left us four years into our journey to explore her burgeoning mental abilities—I believe that she underwent a type of ascension similar to the Ancients you spoke about, but for four years, she was our nurse and our confidant in a lot of ways. Sometimes I think that she was born wise and simply added to that wisdom in those short years she was given. Neelix though, he acted first as our native guide—since he'd been a trader and scavenger in his home territory—then once we passed out of that area of space he'd had experience with, it seemed natural for him to become Voyager's ambassador. I found that he had a knack for making contacts, figuring out people and their cultures fairly quickly, even if he'd never encountered them before.

"And I'm in need of someone like that again," Kathryn says holding Elizabeth's gaze. "In the three years since Neelix has been gone, Chakotay and Tom—and on occasion, I—have picked up the slack, but none of us are trained diplomats or negotiators. Oh, Chakotay and I both took the required courses in Command School, and Tom's a Starfleet brat. He also has a most annoying obsession with old Earth history and cultures—your era actually, so watch for him bothering the hell out of you," she chuckles, "but he's also well versed in certain alien cultures; by now, Tom probably knows more about Klingon culture than B'Elanna does. But adding an experienced diplomat to the senior staff, especially in first contact situations—which covers ninety-nine percent of the contacts we make out here—is not an opportunity I want to pass up, unless … you really had your heart set on becoming our cook."

Elizabeth laughs, but feels fresh tears rolling down her cheeks. There's a tightness in her chest she hadn't noticed before, but she realises it's been loosening as Kathryn speaks, offering her a chance to do what she loves again; a chance to serve and help people again. A chance to be herself again—a chance to be her own woman in her own skin again.

"Thank you," she whispers through her tears. "Thank you."

"You're welcome," Kathryn replies, taking her hand and squeezing it gently. "And don't even think about letting your linguistic skills get rusty—translators are all well and good, but like you saw with the Goa'uld language, it doesn't do nearly so well when it has no context for a language. A translator doesn't have the intuition that a Human linguist would be able to draw on, and first contacts can and do go horribly wrong because of misunderstandings in simple things like context, abstractions or proper tonality in the pronunciation of a word."

Elizabeth nods and spends the next few minutes trying to quickly process the other woman's explanations.

"Now, how about we get you settled," Kathryn continues, breaking the comfortable silence between them. "We can attend to some practicalities like replicating some clothing, various personal sundries … any equipment or books you think you might need. Then afterwards, we can have a light lunch … I can show you how to access our computer sys—"

"War and Peace!" Elizabeth blurts out breathlessly before she can stop herself. "I like a copy of War and Peace by Tolstoy, if—if you have … have …" It suddenly occurs to her that the Tolstoy of this universe may never have written that novel … that Tolstoy may not have existed here, or may have been a lawyer or an accountant.

Kathryn stares at her, first in confusion, and then with sudden comprehension. She smiles. "Don't worry, we have Tolstoy's War and Peace in our database—you can find the contents of most of Earth's libraries, and libraries of other Federation worlds, in the database. You just have to ask the computer to download it to a PADD or replicate it if you want the physical book—you can even specify the type of cover and bindings you'd like or the language."

"I read it years ago in the original Russian," Elizabeth says thoughtfully. "But I'd like an English translation—John, my expedition's military commander …" Her voice cracks, but she forges ahead, feeling the need to explain to this woman. "We were only allowed a limited number of personal items on ah … the expedition." She laughs softly through tears that fall unbidden. "We left knowing that it might be a one-way trip—that we might never see Earth again—so, John figured that since he'd have only one book for an indefinite period, it might as well be a long one. In the three years we were in … that I was there, he only managed to get about a quarter of it read. I know it's silly, but I remember dreaming of him out there in the cold dark … of his voice as he read War and Peace to me—in Russian no less—but he didn't know Russian, so it was only in my head …"

"It's not silly," Kathryn assures her, blue eyes filled with compassion and understanding as she cups Elizabeth's cheek. "It's not silly at all."

After a few moments, Kathryn removes her hand and slips fluidly into "Captain" mode again.

"There is one last thing we should discuss," she says quietly. "As I've indicated before, when Voyager was flung into the delta quadrant, we were short-crewed. One professional we don't have is a psychological counsellor."

A soft sob escapes Elizabeth; it catches her by surprise almost as much as Kathryn's words do. She curls her body away from the other woman, as if that can protect her from the sudden assault of memories. Then Kathryn's hand is rubbing her back, soothing Elizabeth's turbulent thoughts as she concentrates the gentle spirals … round and round …

"There are a number of crewmembers that people tend to turn to when they need help," her friend continues—soft voice husky with emotion.

"Who—who do you talk to?"

"I'm lucky in a way," Kathryn replies. "Tuvok is an old friend; he's very Vulcan, logical and unemotional, so people think that he can't offer emotional support. But he has a wonderful way of cutting straight to the heart of a matter, which I often need when I'm all tangled up and can't see my way clear. Then there's Chakotay—he's a good listener and again, a good friend—"

"No men," she croaks, swallowing the pain clawing at her chest.

Kathryn's hand stops its motion for an instant; Elizabeth feels her palpable surprise and sudden flood of guilt.

"I'm sorry," she says thickly. "That was thoughtless and insensitive of me."

Elizabeth turns into her and Kathryn's arms automatically fold her into a tight embrace. Laying her head on Kathryn's shoulder, she rasps out, "No, please don't apologise. They're your friends, and you know and trust them. That's good thing, Kathryn; that's a very good thing. But I just can't …"

Her tears burst their dam at last as soft lips gently brush across her forehead.

"I understand," Kathryn whispers hoarsely. "I understand." After a few moments, she continues. "B'Elanna is the opposite of Tuvok, very volatile and forthright, but in the last few years, she's become more than just my chief engineer and subordinate. She is a good person to bounce ideas off and she's learned to tell me when she thinks I'm being an idiot."

Elizabeth smiles a little at the description of the engineer; she can totally see that gelling with what she's seen of the alien woman so far.

"There's also Lieutenant Samantha Wildman; she's one of my science officers. She's about your age and a very sympathetic listener. Then there's Lieutenant Moira Jarvis—again another sympathetic listener and a bit of a mother hen. She's a security officer—a few years older than me—and after Chakotay, she's the person a lot of my younger crew feel most comfortable speaking to … especially those who don't serve on the bridge or in engineering."

"Jarvis," Elizabeth husks—closing her eyes as she clings more tightly to Kathryn.

"All right. Would you like me to contact her for you?"


Another gentle kiss brushes across her forehead.

"She won't report to me, but she will report to the Doctor and they'll discuss and coordinate any treatment they feel is necessary with you," Kathryn continues. "Of course, if there's anything that impacts your health and safety, they will ultimately have to report it to me, but only in the most general terms."

Elizabeth nods. "I know. Dr. Heightmeyer, my expedition psychologist and Dr. Beckett, our CMO, had a similar system regarding their patients."

"Then I'll speak to Moira and have her contact you in a couple of hours."

"Thank you."

Part 3

Return to Other Voyager Fiction

Return to Stargate Atlantis Fiction

Return to Main Page