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Beyond Antares

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"Chakotay, do you hear that?"

The First Mate cocked his head. "Hear what?"

Kathryn Janeway leaned toward the viewscreen, eyes narrowed as she listened. "It's beautiful," she murmured, pushing out of the Captain's chair. "Harry, what do you show on sensors?"

"That's odd," Kim commented. " I wasn't showing anything abnormal, but now there appears to be a... a wormhole, Captain."

Without taking her eyes from the screen, Janeway asked, "stable?"

"Yes, Captain," Harry confirmed on his comm panel. "But I don't understand how, or why we didn't detect it."

"Logic would dictate extreme caution, Captain," Tuvok observed.

Janeway waved a hand in acknowledgment. "Of course. But I have a good feeling about this wormhole, Mr. Tuvok. There's something good waiting for us on the other side."

"Treasure, maybe," Tom Paris quipped from the helm.

Kathryn smiled. "Maybe." She finally turned from the viewscreen, addressing her crew. "Run some scans, see what you can dig up. I'll be in my ready room."

She sat at her desk, looking out at the stars. Waiting. She should hear from Tuvok soon... she pulled open the captain's log, catching up.

A shiver passed through the air around her. She looked up. There was something... "Tuvok," she pressed the comm. "How do the scans look? I'd like to travel through as soon as possible."

"Preliminary scans indicate a stable wormhole; one end here, and one in the Alpha Quadrant. We will require more time to confirm."

Kathryn sighed. She looked out, at the brilliance of the wormhole. She could hear... she could hear something, as beautiful as the color shadings outside her view port. She returned to the bridge, curious. A few minutes at a science station, then she went down to the science labs. Then to engineering, flitting about her ship to check performance and assuage her own curiosity. It took hours and hours, and she felt something inside- a song reverberating in her ribs. Finally, she went back to her quarters. On her way, she passed Seven, nodding at the woman they had stolen back from the Borg. "Hi," she smiled. "How are you?"

"Adequate," Seven replied with a small smile.

"Good," Janeway smiled back. "Going to the party tonight?"

"No," Seven said.
Kathryn frowned. "You should. Great way to meet the crew."

"I am familiar with our crew complement."
Janeway rolled her eyes. "Go to the party, Seven."

"Aye, Captain."

Janeway continued on her way to her quarters, hearing something like music that made her walk a little smoother and straighter. She smiled. It felt like a good day. It felt like... a day for discovery.

She read in her quarters, angled so she could see the stars, listening quietly as she flipped through her book.

The night wore on.

The song was getting clearer.

She stood at the window of her quarters, staring out at the wormhole.

With a sigh, she turned away and prepared for bed, brushing out her hair and slipping into her nightgown. She hummed to herself, in time with the tune echoing ghostly from beyond the wormhole.

Kathryn was dreaming. She was dreaming she stood in a garden, in the garden of her childhood home. The same place she'd been made to dig up earth and try to make something grow. She felt the song of the stars pulling her, just as she had then, kneeling in the dirt and wondering why she couldn't just use the replicator. Her hand grasped the branch of an apple tree and she tilted her head back to look up at the sky. The stars shone back down on her, their light on her skin like gentle hands, a voice in her ear humming as though someone were standing right beside her.

She startled awake.

"Janeway to bridge."

"Kim here."

"Harry-" Kathryn smiled tiredly. "Pulling an early shift?"

"Yes, Captain. Wanted to get some extra bridge hours in."

Janeway smiled again. Her greenest officer was always aiming for a promotion, for more responsibility. He'd have a ship of his own someday. When they made it back to the Alpha Quadrant.

Which could, she supposed, be today.

"I'll be right there." She smiled, clicking off the comm and slipping toward the sonic shower. "Hmm, mmm, mmm" she hummed a bar or two before she flipped on the sonic shower. "Beyond Antares..." she sang. Now there was an old song. Something she hadn't heard since her Historical Film course. Back in Academy days. Something she had enjoyed, what felt like hundreds of years ago.

On the bridge, she smiled at Harry and took her seat. "Anything interesting happen?"

"Not really," Harry smiled. "Got to see the wormhole change colors a few times." He gestured at the viewscreen, where the wormhole was a beautiful bright red.

"Captain-" Tuvok's warning came as a ship slid up across the blackness of space on the viewscreen.

"Good morning," Janeway leaned forward to look, smirking at the ship. " I suppose we can go one more round in the Delta Quadrant before we head back to port. Mr. Paris, lock on. Let me know when we're in firing range. Mr. Tuvok, battle stations."

"Battle stations, aye." The red light of the wormhole glared as they swung around, shields snapping on.

"In firing range now, Captain," Harry Kim said, and Tom Paris smiled wolfishly as he danced Voyager around the energy blast from the other ship. Kathryn leaned forward in her seat. No one was going to take her from this wormhole, not before they learned all they could. And not before she knew whose voice that was...

"Target and fire at will," she instructed.

"Aye, Captain,"

The battle was short, and Voyager triumphed- of course. Tom Paris crowed victoriously as the engines of the other ship gave out and their power flickered and failed. B'elanna called up to the bridge. "They did some passing damage to our shields, Captain, but nothing I can't fix."

"Excellent." Janeway replied. "Janeway to enemy vessel. We accept your surrender. Prepare to be boarded."

The reply was staticky. "We have heard of Voyager's reputation. We beg you to be as merciful now."

Kathryn smirked over at Tuvok, who raised an eyebrow in return. "We may be pirates," she said to the bridge at large, and whoever may have been listening on the other end of the comm, "but we have standards."

Harry Kim led the away team, and he and Seven returned with enough technology, stories, and recipes to keep the crew happy. "We left them a new gene sequencing technology that should allow them to clear up some of their lasting issues with genetic disease."

"Very good, Harry." Kathryn smiled. "Well." She stood. "If that's all- let's go."

"Captain- the wormhole-"

"Is it dangerous?"

Tuvok paused. "No, Captain. All scans show it is exactly what it appears to be."

"Good."

The ship shook. Janeway drifted. The colors of the wormhole burst around her, and she danced through them. Reds, soft browns, bright greens. Overwhelmed visually, swimming in the song she'd been hearing, lost to the promise of the other end of the wormhole.

"Captain!" Harry's sharp cry startled her upright.

"Report!" She barked, staring at the viewscreen.

"I- we're-" Kathryn could hear Harry pressing commands on his station, flipping through information.

"That's the Enterprise. The Enterprise, Enterprise. No A, B, C, or D."

"What?" Kathryn swung to look at him. "Are you sure?" Even as she asked, she looked back at the viewscreen, staring at the ship there. That certainly looked like the Enterprise she'd read about.

Harry peered at his station readout. "Yes. Positive."

"Well." Chakotay cleared his throat. "Shit."

"Eloquent." Kathryn cast him an acerbic look. She felt better than she had in days, looking at this space years from being her own. "Well. We're home. Sort of."

Tom Paris grinned back. "Now we just have to wait a few decades for our parents to be born," he said, all gallows.

"We'll find our way," Janeway smiled. "In the meantime, open a channel."

"Captain?"

"Any port in a storm. Besides, I've always wanted to meet Jim Kirk."

The viewscreen switched over, and there was the man himself, sitting cross-legged in his boxy captain's chair like it was a throne. Janeway smiled. He looked just like his holotypes. Beside him, his tall first officer took a step down toward the viewscreen. Janeway held up her hands, stopping before either of them could start. "Parlay."

Jim Kirk leaned forward. "Your technology... clearly outclasses our own. Am I supposed to allow you aboard my ship?"

Janeway shook her head. "By all means, Captain Kirk, come over here. Our transporters will pick you up."

"I don't know that I can trust that suggestion either, Miss...?"

"Captain." Hands on her hips. "Janeway, of the starship Voyager."

"My apologies, Captain." Kirk smiled, a look she was sure had won many hearts. But not hers.

"Apology accepted, Captain. If you won't let us come over there, and you won't come over here, what do you propose?"

"Well, I happen to know a little planet, not half a lightyear from here. Mostly islands, no megafauna or intelligent life that we can find."

"That seems a logical meeting spot," Janeway tipped her head with a sardonic smile. "Would you send us the coordinates?"

"Of course." The screen went dark, and Kathryn turned away.

Chakotay came to stand beside her. "Seems like a trap," he said.

"Uh-huh."

"Recieving coordinates now, Captain."

"Proceed with caution."

Her first officer looked askance at her. "What are we going to do once we get there?"

Janeway smirked. "Improvise." She turned to her bridge crew. "Since they know this planet and we don't, it's safe to assume there will be more of them than meets the eye. Tuvok, pull everything you can, come up with a tactical plan. Chakotay, I want a thorough assessment of Kirk's strategies. We have the advantage of foreknowledge and better technology. Let's use them."

"You are assuming there will be conflict." Tuvok pointed out.

Janeway sat down, kicking her legs over the arm of her seat to look up at him. "You bet I am."

They arrived at the planet and beamed down with no problem. Janeway, Tom, and Tuvok looked warily around them.

A moment later, the Enterprise away team shimmered down beside them.

"Hello," Kathryn smiled, watching Tom's hand twitch toward his phaser. She'd been excited to meet Jim Kirk, but as soon as she saw his away team she forgot all about him. On one side was the infamous Ambassador Spock- not an Ambassador yet- and on the other was a woman whose holotype Janeway had seen only rarely and had certainly not done her justice.

"Captain Kirk." Janeway stepped forward. "Good to see you. Allow me to introduce my helmsman, Tom Paris, and my chief of security,"

"My first officer Spock, my Communications officer Lieutenant Uhura."

"Hello,"

"Hello," Nyota's eyes lingered over her.

Kathryn was tempted to ask, 'like what you see?' But she reined herself in. Barely. "Your voice is... familiar."

Nyota smiled brilliantly, all white teeth. "Is it?" She said, batting her eyelashes.

Kathryn tilted her head. "Yes... like I 've heard it in a dream,"

"On this planet?" Nyota gestured at the verdant foliage all around them. "Feels like it, doesn't it?"

"It does indeed. This really is a lovely place you picked for a rendezvous, Captain Kirk." Janeway remarked, mentally shaking herself. "Now that we're here," she stepped forward and offered her hand. "Parlay?"

They spoke briefly about the wormhole, the problem of getting home, and Janeway reflected that for years she'd thought about getting to meet Jim Kirk, wished it were possible to speak to one of the greatest pirate captains of the fleet- and now that she stood in front of him her eyes kept sliding over his shoulder to meet those of his communications officer.

"...Well, Captain, we'll offer whatever assistance we can," Kirk spread his hands and shrugged. "Though quite frankly I'm not sure what that would be."

"It's been too long since we had an ally." Janeway said. "That'll be a good start."

Kirk smiled back. Janeway knew very well not to trust the open, friendly expression. She was on the right side of history indeed. "Well, I think I'll grant a shore leave for my crew- you're welcome to do the same,"

"I think I will," Kathryn agreed.

Kirk opened his old-style communicator. "One to beam up." He was gone in a shimmer, and his first officer stepped forward to speak gravely with Tuvok. Janeway intercepted the communications officer.

"Hello." She said.

"So, what's it like in the future?" Uhura asked. Her voice was velvet soft with a little steel threading in. Janeway suspected she had a personality to match. Kathryn couldn't stop listening, and she couldn't stop looking.

"Same as now, really. Missing a few things, I'd say." She let her eyes linger across Uhura's face.

"Well, no time like the present," the communications officer smiled, and Kathryn laughed.

"I guess there's not!" She laughed. "Care to take a walk?"

"Captain," Tom Paris started foreard. She waved him back withiut breaking eye contact with Lieutenant Uhura.

"Later, Lieutenant." She said firmly. "Keep a lock on me."

"Aye, Captain."

They walked along a thin path through the trees, occasionally pushing branches aside. Maybe it was being back in the Alpha Quadrant, maybe it was the planet itself, but Janeway felt she could stay forever.

"You look like a woman with a lot on her mind." Uhura said after a pause.

Kathryn smiled. "I suppose I am. This is a strange world, but it's the closest I've been to home in a long time. I almost want to stay."

"I feel that way too, sometimes." Uhura said. "But I like the stars too much. Always somewhere new to go, someone new to meet." Her eyes lingered on Kathryn's face, and the Captain smiled.

"I agree entirely."

They walked and talked, discussing where they'd been and who they'd met, Kathryn listening to the pleasant tones of Uhura's voice and feeling herself spellbound by her companion, the scenery, the conversation. It wasn't until they reached the coastline and saw the twin suns setting that Kathryn realized how long she'd been gone.

"I should return to my ship," she said.

"Already?"

She met Nyota's eyes. "Well... soon."

The communications officer smiled. "Stay a little longer."

"And do what? We've rather run out of trail." Kathryn gestured to the sand and laughed.

"Kiss me," Nyota invited.

Kathryn leaned close. "Only if you kiss me back,"

Nyota laughed. "I promise."

Kissing her was like standing at the focal point of a concert hall while an orchestra played your favorite song. Kathryn felt overwhelmed, bouyed up, caught in a gravity well.

They ended up staying on the beach, beside a fire Kathryn built. Entranced by their conversation and the sound of Nyota's voice, she barely heard it when her communicator went off.

"Um, Janeway here," she sat upright.

"Chakotay here Captain, we've been trying to reach you for an hour."

"Must be some kind of interference."

Chakotay made a skeptical noise. "I have a lock on your coordinates- can you beam up? We have something of a situation."

"Duty calls," Janeway said to Uhura, kissing her hand. "One to beam up, Mister Chakotay."

Something felt wrong about the transporter, but when she materialized in her own transporter room with no incident she put the feeling down to leaving Nyota.

"What seems to be the problem?"

"We've picked up several human life signs following you throughout the day, Captain."

"Well, we anticipated that. Thanks for picking me up. Now, let's get to work on getting out of here. Getting out of now?"

Chakotay smiled and shrugged. "Getting out of now seems appropriate."

"I hate temporal mechanics."

Over the next days, B'elanna working around the clock, keeping one eye on Jim Kirk and one on Nyota was proving more complicated than Janeway had anticipated. It seemed as though every time she turned around another of her crew was starting a fight over the lightfingered-ness of Kirk's crew. Especially one Kevin Thomas Riley, who reminded her a little too much of her own Thomas Eugene Paris. She asked Chakotay to keep them as far apart as possible.

She was lucky it had only been a few days; she dreaded what might happen between the two crews in another week.

Just as she had the thought, staring pensively into her morning coffee, her chief engineer came in.

"I've got the calculations, Captain. We can pull it off."

"Very good, B'elanna. Much more worth taking in our own time."

The engineer grinned. "That's true. Ready whenever you are."

"I have one more trip to make." Kathryn contacted Nyota and arranged a meeting on the same beach they'd inhabited the past few days.

"Hello," Kathryn smiled.

"Hello," Nyota answered with a kiss. "How are you?"

"Better now."

Nyota laughed. "Do you use that line often?"

"Only to you." Kathryn replied. "And when I've had my first coffee."

"Ranked alongside coffee. Lucky me."

Janeway laughed, but stopped quickly and cut straight to her point. "We have to leave," she said. "B'elanna figured out how to take us home."

"Oh" Nyota walked a few steps away. "Why don't you stay with me," she invited, silvery voice and warm eyes beckoning.

"I have to stay with my ship," the Captain said, taking a step forward. "Why don't you stay with me?"

"I want to show you something," Nyota said sweetly. "Some treasure I found." Janeway took another step forward. "Come with me, Katie," Softly, she started to sing.

Distantly, Janeway recognized the music that had drifted through the wormhole for days, echoing in her dreams. She felt her feet moving forward.