DISCLAIMER: Voyager and its characters are the property of Paramount Pictures.
CHALLENGE: Written as part of the 1001 Nights Challenge - written on water.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
The Scheherazade Stories--#995--Written on Water--A Coda
The cadets enrolled in the required History of Starfleet course barely managed to repress their groans as another session began. It was taught by Admiral Hahn, a doddering old codger and former Superintendent of Starfleet Academy, who somehow managed to make what should have been a fascinating and enlightening topic quotidian and deadly. As Admiral Hahn shuffled into the lecture hall, the Starfleet hopefuls straightened in their seats. Even though the old bird was practically deaf in one ear and couldn't hear out the other, he was still sharp enough to catch the unwary day-dreamer or thoughtless prankster and make an example out of him by a right, royal ass-chewing. Bad enough, that, but even worse was the black mark against the miscreant in his record. Enough demerits and a cadet was booted straight out the front door, with no hope of being re-admitted. The fact that Old Man Hahn was still walking around Starfleet Academy spoke to the esteem in which the higher ups held him, securing for him as they had this teaching gig, which amounted to little more than a sinecure. They reasoned that he could do little harm here, and that it couldn't hurt the cadets to endure the course. Boredom was a fact of life for Starfleet officers on deep space missions, after all, they joked among themselves. Better that the cadets learn how to deal with it now.
As another dry, endless lecture ground to an end and the Admiral finished with his perfunctory "Any questions?", one intrepid cadet raised his hand. It took the Admiral a second or two to register that someone was actually taking him up on his offer for further enlightenment. He put down his briefcase and fixed his rheumy gaze upon the young man.
"Yes, cadet?" the Admiral asked.
"Sir," the cadet began, "I wondered about the starship Voyager."
"What about it?" growled Hahn.
"Well, sir," explained the youngster, "I had seen in last night's reading much made of other ships of her era, the Enterprise, for example, and the Excelsior. And of the Intrepid class ships, I saw quite a bit about the USS Intrepid and the Bellerophon. But very little about Voyager. Why is that?"
The Admiral frowned. "If you read the assignment, then you know why there's not much in the history books about her," he growled. This upstart was keeping him from his afternoon tea and nap.
"But what happened to her, Sir? We're only told that she was commissioned in 2371 and not much else. I'm curious."
Admiral Hahn sighed. "A mistake," he growled.
"Voyager was a huge mistake. A waste of personnel and expensive materiel." He took a deep breath, clasped his hands behind him, and looked up at the ceiling. He began to recite the story of the USS Voyager, chapter and verse.
"The starship Voyager, under the command of Kathryn E. Janeway, one of the first Starfleet ships to be equipped with bioneural circuitry and an Emergency Medical Holographic program. The first ship to be fitted with a class-9 warp drive. Constructed at Utopia Planitia Shipyards and launched with great fanfare from Earth Station McKinley on Stardate 48038.5, 2371. Began her first mission from Deep Space 9, to track down a Maquis ship in the Badlands."
He brought his gaze down from the ceiling and his hands from behind his back. He leaned on the podium and stared at the suddenly rapt faces staring back at him.
"She left on her maiden voyage and simply, ladies and gentlemen, disappeared. Never to be heard from again."
"Never?" squeaked another cadet.
"Was no one sent to look for her?" asked a third.
"Of course we looked for her!" the Admiral asserted impatiently. "There was no trace of her. Not even a warp signature."
"All those people . . . ," sighed a misty-eyed young woman.
"Oh, Starfleet gave them a proper funeral. Full Starfleet honors and all that," the Admiral said. "But she's best forgotten. No sense dwelling on it. Someone, somewhere along the line, made a mistake. Not that we don't, well that I don't have some ideas about whose fault it was, but," he looked at his chronometer. "Well, enough about that. Any more questions?" He looked around at the still thoughtful faces turned toward him. Satisfied that no more probing inquiries into the fate of the long-lost, star-crossed Voyager were forthcoming, Admiral Hahn picked up his briefcase and lurched toward the door, muttering something about expensive ships and women drivers.
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