Caretaker, part 1 & 2

All hail Paramount, I'm just playing in their yard. (how's that for a disclaimer?).

Caretaker, Part 1 & 2

**Personal Logs of Commander Chakotay**

I left on principle. . .to defend my home colony. . . .

I'll be truthful. I haven't kept one of these logs in a number of years. Not since I cast off my duties to the Federation and resigned my commission from Starfleet. I never dreamed I'd once again be part of a ship from Starfleet. I've been an outlaw; a wanted man. And here I am, again.

Ironic, isn't it?

I need a shower, put some food in me, and rest my weary bones, but first things first. My first entry in my Personal Log. . .the First Officers personal log.

If Captain Hikaru Sulu could see me now. . .

So, I'm dictating this now, while it's still fresh in my memory, so I can be faithful to it. Like I was once before. . .

Before my father died at the hands of the Cardassians.

And I swear here and now. . .to be truthful, loyal and represent Starfleet and the Alpha Quadrant. To lighten the burden upon the shoulders of my captain, to make her duties easier. I swear this.

Because I am a man of honor. And the road ahead is long.

It started as a typical day. . .fighting the Cardassians, or more specifically, Gul Evek. We were taking quite a beating. Hell, it was an old ship. It's not like we had a starship we were using or anything. An old ship that barely held together. Fighting was nothing new, always expected.

Using the pilot training I had from Starfleet, I used defenses and maneuvers to try and evade them.. Always looking for that weak spot. Anger was my blood brother. . .and I used it well.

I told Tuvok to take phasers off line, for just enough power to get us into the badlands; enough for B'Elanna to pull off another miracle with the ship. Hopefully, if Gul Evek had any brains, he'd break off the attack and let us go on our way. Allow us to fight another day. Allow us to live another day.

Then Tuvok detected a Tetryon Beam, for a moment everything calmed. . .too calm. then a displacement beam came out of no where. We couldn't escape it, couldn't out-run it.

The last thing I heard for a while was Tuvok's voice saying, "5. . .4 . . .3 . . " Then nothing.

We woke up, apparently a long way from where we had been. Began repairs. . .then everyone began disappearing.

I'll tell you, there's nothing like a. . .hell, it looked like a foot long needle. . .and it went into my chest. Darkness isn't very comforting. Especially when you have no control over it.

According to Captain Janeway, they were gone from their ship for three days. Similar for us. Unaccounted time. We seem to have plenty of it.

And when we were returned, B'Elanna wasn't with us.

We were valiantly trying to regroup, make repairs to the ship when we were hailed by a Federation Starship.

"Commander Chakotay? My name is Captain Kathryn Janeway."

I was surprised. I expected Cardassians, but a Federation Vessel? I was confused for a moment, not expecting anything which had happened in the past week. Captain Kathryn Janeway. . .she held herself so tall, proud. Her voice sounded authority, yet yielded something I wasn't sure of yet.

"How do you know my name?" I should have known better, after all. I had been in Starfleet.

"We were on a mission to find you when we were brought here by the Array," she said, no sign of her lying, deception. I knew I could trust her, to some extent. "One of our crewmen is missing. Was he transported back to your ship by accident?"

'Trick. Don't believe her,' flashed in my mind and I quickly dismissed it.

"No. A member of our crew is missing, too. B'Elanna Torres, my engineer."

"Commander, you and I have the same problem. I think it makes sense to try and solve it together, don't you?" Ah, the tried and true Starfleet motto. . .teamwork.

I turned to Tuvok and he nodded. Trust this woman, that one movement said to me.

"Three of us will transport to your ship." I cut transmission, powered down my vessel, my weapons and lowered my screens. A move of faith on my part. No way was I going to show brave tactics to a ship that could easily wipe us into the next century and a woman that probably had no qualms about doing so. I had no reason not to trust her.

We beamed over with phasers ready, just in case. One of her crew pulled on us and she had him stand down. A leap of faith for a starship captain.

Then the unexpected. . . "It's good to have you back, Mr. Tuvok." Janeway said. What the hell was she talking about. She knew Tuvok. Well it seemed.

He was sent to infiltrate my ship. He was really Captain Janeway's Chief of Security. I noticed how she hung her head while this information was divulged.

"Were you going to deliver us into their waiting hands, Vulcan?" I said, holding back Ayala, one of my trusted colleagues.

"My mission. . .was to accumulate information on the Maquis activities, then deliver you into their waiting hands." I hated deception, I hated Cardassians, I hated this.

Then I saw Tom Paris. "I see you had help."

"It's good to see you too, Chakotay." What the hell? he was going to jail last time I saw that arrogant bastard. I let loose. I could have pounded that conceited pups face into the floor and not thought twice.

"At least the Vulcan was doing his duty as a Starfleet officer. But you. . .," I paused, allowing vehemence I felt for this lowlife expand. ". . .you betrayed us for what? Freedom from prison? Latinum? What was your price this time?" I spit out those last few words.

Janeway turned so she was between me and Paris. I could feel her glare on my face, burning into me.

"You are speaking to a member of my crew." She said. I still didn't look at her. "I expect you to treat him with the same respect as you would have me treat a member of yours." Only then did I look her in the eye. Only for a brief moment. Those clear blue eyes gave no room for argument. An old acquaintance of mine once said that blue eyes were easier to read. They were right. There was no way to get beyond what those eyes said.

I turned and let myself cool down. Janeway said it was time to break out the compression phaser rifles. I'll say, she doesn't take crap off of anyone. I'd hate to be her enemy, just from those few minutes with her.

Then we went back to the Array.

And this guy sent us back. Without so much as a kiss my ass or anything. I would have loved to have seen Janeway really give this guy the riot act. But it wasn't to be.

Not enough time he said. . .


I went back to my vessel and both ships headed toward the fifth planet. Where the energy bursts were going to from the array. Maybe it held the answers we sought; and our people.

We went into orbit around the planet. Along the way, she had picked up an alien who claimed to know the area, who had the story of how this being was taking people from different areas of space. After a short consultation, I beamed down with Janeway and her crew.

And her new friend Neelix introduced us to his friends, the Kazon-Ogla. Something about these guys bothered me. They, according to Neelix, traded amongst themselves, ruled this part of the quadrant and had no qualms about killing others. They sure didn't look very friendly. Just something in there eyes that led me to that. And there obvious attitude.

They liked water. But there was still no evidence this was where B'Elanna and Harry Kim were being held. We were looking for Ocampa.

The leader pointed to a doorway and there she stood. An elfin creature with short-cropped blond hair and clear blue eyes. And horribly beaten from the looks of her. A swollen bloodied lip, blackened eye. These Kazon were far from friendly as I said, this only proved my point, if they could do this to one so innocent. She didn't look any older then maybe eighteen. Maybe not even that.

Neelix grabbed the leader, making the others drop their weapons. The four of us, Janeway, Tuvok, Paris and myself were on our feet. I grabbed the leaders' weapons and handed one to Janeway. Neelix shot the water containers and beckoned to the girl to join us. We all beamed up to Voyager while the Kazon fought for water.

Apparently, these two Delta Quadrant individuals were an item. Though what she saw in him was a question I couldn't answer. What's that old saying, opposites attract? This proved this beyond a shadow of doubt.

The doctor treated her wounds. Then Janeway turned him off, considering he was a hologram and from what I could tell, very annoying.. The girl had apparently lived underground, as did the rest of her people, but had made her way to the surface. She escaped because she was curious about the outside world.

But Janeway was determined. She asked the girl if she could take us to our missing people. The girl said she was sure the tunnel that she came out of had been sealed. Janeway thought of a direct beam in.

She informed us that her name was Kes. Neelix said they would leave there together, since he had saved her. I didn't blame them. And I don't think Janeway did either. Then Kes said she would help us, as we did her. For all intents and purposes, she seemed very sincere.

Kes seems wise, like an ancient living within a young soul. It seems she's not interested in being taken care of, that she has a mind of her own. Which the rest of her people don't seem to have.

If they weren't going to help us, she would. And she did.

The pulses were getting quicker, then stopped. The array began sending out different pulsing beam which began to seal the energy conduits. Tuvok believes the Caretaker, as the Ocampa call him, is dying. It would explain much.

We couldn't beam out, the window wasn't there. We followed the rest of the team who had split from us to look for B'Elanna and Harry Kim. We figured it was possibly the only way that we were going to get out of there. We got to the ladders and began to climb. It was hard to keep balance, with the beams hitting and such. We were just about to the top when one hit too close. I fell, as did the rest. I felt the bone in my leg snap. There was no way I was going to make it out of there alive. Call it a hunch. But hell, I'd been prepared to meet my maker since I joined the Maquis.

Janeway was bent on helping me until Paris came back with Neelix. Talk about just in time. I don't know how she would have done it, saving Tuvok

and me. But from what I 'd seen, she would have died trying.

"Neelix, help me with Tuvok," she said, then Paris said he'd get me. Not who I wanted owing my life. I would have rather died. The scaffolding was real close to collapsing.

"We'll both die." I gasped.

"Yeah, and if I save your life, your life belongs to me." Not what I wanted. "Isn't that some kind of Indian custom?" Paris asked.

"Wrong tribe." I said, through gritted teeth.

Well, if I were to die, at least he'd go with me. But we made it out of there in the nick of time. He'd barely gotten me out of there when the landing I had been on broke free and disappeared into the darkness.

Broken leg and all, we made it to the surface and beamed back to Voyager.

The doctor fixed my leg. Then we got a message that two Kazon ships were heading toward the Array. . . our only way home.

B'Elanna and I had to get back to our ship. Go down in the heat of battle.

Two against two. . .good odds.

Janeway contacted me. . .hoping we could keep those Kazon distracted while her and Tuvok go to the Array, to see if the Caretaker could send us home.

I owed them one. I said yes.

We fought long and hard, alongside Voyager. Then the reinforcements arrived. Big, nasty looking ships. This wasn't going to be an easy fight.

The Kazon hit Voyager's weapons array. They were in trouble. B'Elanna said neither we nor they had enough power to do any damage.


I set a collision course, but I would have to fly it in manually. I ordered B'Elanna to get the others and beam to Voyager. At least they'd have a chance if I didn't make it. For the second time that day, I prepared myself to die. Just to take some heat off Voyager's tail.

Tom made the comment to the effect that this didn't make us even for saving my life, after I made the comment about one of his crackerjack transporter techs beaming me out on my next signal.

I beamed out at the last possible second.

At least we all had a fighting chance. I made my way up to the bridge, hoping I could be of some help. Janeway and Tuvok were still over there.

She came back. She was going to destroy the Array. Our only way back home.

B'Elanna spoke. "What do you think you're doing? That Array is our only way home!"

"I'm aware that everyone has families and loved ones back home," Janeway countered, "that they want to get home to, so do I. But I'm not willing to trade the lives of the Ocampa, for our convenience. We'll have to find another way home."

And she turned away from B'Elanna.

"What other way home is there?" B'Elanna started after the captain, but I grabbed her shoulder.

"Who is she to be making these decisions for us?" B'Elanna snarled. I looked her in the eye.

"She's the captain." I know what I was saying, even then. I was pledging myself to Janeway, to a life I had left behind.

She fired on the Array and destroyed it.

Now we had something to worry about. A new enemy. The Kazon.

She gave Paris a field commission and the rank of Lt. She allowed us to stay. . .she showed me around her ship and asked me to become her first officer. If we were to survive, we'd have to become a united crew. The example had to come from the highest authority. Herself and me.

I said yes and Janeway made me her First Officer, second in command.

I've made a full circle, you could say.

It's weird being in this uniform again. But then again, we are a long way from home.

Seventy-five years is a long time; this is a long journey.

Janeway's words echo in my head as I write this account. So true, but full of hope. "We're a long. In an unchartered part of the galaxy. We've already made some friends here and some enemies. We have no idea of the dangers we're going to face. But one thing is clear; both crews are going to have to work together if we're to survive. That's why Commander Chakotay and I have agreed this should be one crew. A Starfleet crew. And as the only Starfleet vessel assigned to the Delta Quadrant, we'll continue to follow our directive. . .to seek out new worlds and explore space. But our primary goal is clear; even at maximum speeds, it would take seventy-five years to reach the Federation. But I'm not willing to settle for that. There's another entity like the Caretaker out there, somewhere, who has the ability to get us there a lot faster. We'll be looking for her. And we'll be looking for wormhole's, spatial rifts, or new technologies to help us. Somewhere along this journey, we'll find a way back." She stopped and turned to Paris.

"Mr Paris, set a course for home." He turned to the helm.

"Aye, Captain."

I looked at her a moment, then to the view screen. A long journey back home. Who knows what surprises lurk out there.

I wonder what this journey will entail for us. Things beyond the scope of imagination, and believability.

My honor and loyalty lie with one woman, who has already proved her worth to me. A woman who holds all the cards and puts up a poker face. A woman who has the brains and drive to succeed.

And I've sworn to uphold that tradition again-- the tradition of Starfleet and exploration.

Well, I've showered, ate and I'm settled in my new quarters, next to the captain's. Tomorrow, I begin my new life in full. There is something to a challenge and I'm not afraid to take this head on.

Time to close out my personal log. Not because I have nothing more to say, because I'm tired.

**End Log**

Next Log Entry - Parallax

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