By Thomas Lee
Ever since Jeffrey’s "Survival Instinct" rewrite, I’ve been wondering how the former Three of Nine, Auxiliary Processor of Unimatrix 01, would have reacted to the events of "Getting Home." Now, in his latest addition to his "Parallel Voyage" series, Jeffrey has not only answered that question, but he has devised a unique version of Marika Willkara’s last days as well—one that was made possible by the direction he had taken "Parallel Voyage" in.
Even though "Marika’s Journey" was primarily an account of Marika’s post-"Survival Instinct" life in Jeffrey Harlan’s "Parallel Voyage" timeline, Jeffrey saw fit to include an account of how Marika Willkara became Borg. This did more than just add to Marika’s story—it lent detail to a traumatic event that likely influenced her reaction to Janeway’s disgrace during the events of "Getting Home."
Through Marika, we got a glimpse of how the junior officers and crew of Voyager viewed the court martial seen in "Getting Home." Marika herself would have more reason than most to take this hard. Given that she, a Bajoran, had become, and was prior to her assimilation, a member of Starfleet even while Bajor was still occupied by the Cardassians (no small feat given that Bajorans hadn’t exactly been free to do as they wished while occupied by a power that was hostile to the Federation), I think that it was safe to say that she had believed in Starfleet more than most. Add in that Marika had been assimilated in the course of her Starfleet service (not to mention the unknown fate of her relatives onboard the USS Excalibur), and Janeway’s disgrace of the uniform that Marika had suffered so much for becomes incomprehensible.
For all of its briefness, the opening scene of "Marika’s Journey" had been a definite attention grabber. Given the cold numbers about Marika’s truncated life expectancy, the unspoken question as to how Marika had lived to reach Bajor did much to spur interest in reading the rest of the story for an explanation. The use of one of the stasis units we saw in "One" was a great idea—not only did it enable Marika to return to Bajor alive, but it also permitted her to experience the events that Jeffrey detailed in "Prodigal Daughter" and "Homecoming" without the devising of some miracle cure that would detract from the dilemma Seven faced in "Survival Instinct."
Regarding Marika’s attendance of Harry and Seven’s wedding—it appears that the wedding was an even greater indication of healed rifts than what was apparent in "Prodigal Daughter." That Marika was willing to attend Seven’s wedding did a lot to show how much of Marika’s bad feelings toward Seven had been set aside by the end of "Getting Home"—especially since it would cost Marika time that might otherwise have been spent at Bajor (not to mention the extra stress entailed by the additional reviving from and returning to stasis that this required).
Given that Marika had "three or four days left" before departing for Bajor, the nearby presence of the Kims and the Jules Verne strongly suggests that Harry and Annika had personally chauffeured Marika around Bajor during that time. It’s certainly fits with what we know and like about Harry Kim—and Annika as well (even when she had been Seven).
Marika’s learning of Annika’s new identity was a nice coda to a scene in "Survival Instinct" in which the linked Two, Three, and Four of Nine asked Seven why she hadn’t dropped her Borg designation upon becoming an individual. It emphasized just how much the former Seven of Nine had changed from Marika’s first impression of her, and (like her attendance of Seven’s wedding) how much Marika’s attitudes towards her had similarly changed.
Likewise, Marika’s reactions to her return to Bajor, and her brief reunion with her parents, did much to emphasize that, just like the late Two and Four of Nine, she had made the most of her last days of life. Her final words to her parents, Harry, and Annika not only reinforced that point, they conveyed an unspoken message of forgiveness to Annika (and explained how, and why, her attitudes towards the former Seven of Nine had changed).
Although no account of Marika’s last days can be anything more than bittersweet without doing "Survival Instinct" an injustice, "Marika’s Journey" was definitely among the least bitter (and most sweet) of the "final days" stories for Marika I’ve read (comparable in that regard to Mike’s Delta Quadrant version in "The Hierarchy of Needs"). All in all, "Marika’s Journey" was a decent addition to the "Parallel Voyage" timeline that not only was a good story in its own right, but helped make other "Parallel Voyage" stories more complete as well.