Written by  on December 13, 2001 

Discovery Cover

Stardate 54001.6 (Fri 23 May 2375): Kes, traversing across parallel timelines, comes upon a Voyager that had recently been attacked by an insane version of herself.

U.S.S. Voyager NCC-74656
Stardate 54028.9
10 January 2377 1401 hrs

Kes flashed into existence in a new timeline, then looked around. She was on the bridge, standing in the open area between the helm and the captain’s chair.

Tom Paris spun in his chair to see who or what had just appeared behind him. "Kes!" he exclaimed. Everyone else on the bridge stared, slack-jawed, as Kes looked back at them in confusion. Could she really be sensing… fear?

"Red alert!" Janeway said, rising from her chair. "Security to the bridge!" Kes stared at the older woman, her shock and confusion intensifying.

Red alert? Kes thought. What had happened in this timeline? This timeline was outwardly similar to the last one, as everyone was in the black uniforms with color-coordinated shoulders, but something very strange had happened.

"What are your intentions, Kes?" Janeway asked.

"Captain?" Kes asked, confused. "I think there’s been a misunderstanding. I’m not who you think I am."

Janeway looked at the Ocampan dubiously. "Kes," she said softly, "you’re not going to fool us like you tried to do before."

"I’m not trying to trick you," Kes said. "I’m from another timeline; I honestly have no idea what you’re talking about!"

"Why should I believe you?" Janeway asked acidly as Ayala led two security officers out of the turbolift. "The last time you were here, you tried to arrange for us to become organ donors for the Vidiians. Do you have any proof of what you’re claiming?"

"I—I don’t know," Kes said, more confused than before. The Vidiians had taken the lungs of the Neelix she knew not long after she’d come aboard Voyager in her timeline, and she donated one of her own lungs to save his life. She had no affection for that race, and couldn’t imagine betraying anyone to them. Her thoughts returned to her present situation. She had to find some way to convince them that she wasn’t dangerous. "Maybe," she continued, "Harry could scan this communicator. I got it from the Voyager of another timeline." She removed the pin and held it out, offering it to Janeway, who looked over to Harry Kim, who was standing at his post at the Ops station.

"Do it," the captain ordered, then looked back to Kes. "I want the Doctor to run a full physical on you. Tuvok," she turned to glance at the Vulcan security chief at the Tactical station, "have another security team escort Kes to sickbay. And break out the compression phaser rifles, just to be safe."

U.S.S. Voyager NCC-74656
Stardate 54029.1
10 January 2377 1421 hrs

"Amazing," the Doctor said as he read the display panel in front of him. Four security guards stood watch along the walls of sickbay, their compression phaser rifles held across their chests, ready for use at a moment’s notice. "Absolutely incredible," the Doctor continued. "Your physiology isn’t like the Kes I knew. For the most part, you look just like she did before she left, but as far as I can tell, you aren’t affected by the nine-year Ocampan lifespan. And you’ve got both of your lungs!"

"This isn’t my original body," Kes explained. "Somehow, I created this one with my powers nearly a year ago. I’d been noncorporeal for some time before that, and I nearly went insane from the experience."

"Well," Harry’s voice came from the doorway, "it would seem you did—in this timeline, at least." He walked across sickbay and handed the communicator back to Kes. "The scans confirmed that this communicator definitely did not originate in this particular quantum reality."

"Have you told the captain yet?" Kes asked.

"No, not yet," Harry said. "I wanted to check in with the Doctor first and see if he found anything." He turned to the ship’s EMH. "Well, Doc?"

"Her physiology is… not what I was expecting," the Doctor replied. "Rest assured, I’ll make a full report to the captain on my own. After all, medicine’s my specialty, not yours, Mr. Kim."

"Whatever you say, Doc," Harry said, then turned and was about to leave sickbay before Kes called out to him.

"Harry, wait," Kes said. "I wanted to talk to you."

"Sure, Kes," he said, walking back over to stand beside her as she sat on the edge of the main biobed. "What did you want to talk about?"

"You," she said, deciding to try the direct approach. "What have you been doing for the past three years?"

"Not much," he said modestly. "I’ve been taking command of the night shift for the past two years. I’ve helped Tom with his holoprograms. You know, the usual."

"Have you met anyone?" Kes asked, then amended, "Anyone special, I mean."

"Yeah," he admitted after a moment’s hesitation, "a couple of someones. Two years ago, we encountered a generational ship, and I met someone on board. It didn’t last."

"What was her name?" I asked.

"Tal," he said, growing uncomfortable. He decided to change the subject. "Last year, we ran into Lyndsay Ballard… back from the dead."

"I remember her," Kes said. "You went to the academy together, didn’t you?"

"That’s right," he said. "She was killed by the Hirogen a couple of months after you left. Her body was found by a race called the Kobali not long thereafter, then revived and genetically altered—that’s how they reproduce. She escaped, and about six months later caught up with us. We rekindled our friendship from the academy and aboard Voyager, but it turned into something else…"

"You fell in love with her," Kes concluded. She didn’t have to be telepathic to see that one.

"Yeah," he said. "She was only aboard for a couple of weeks. Then, another Kobali ship showed up, with her new ‘father’ aboard. Eventually, she agreed to go back with him to save Voyager… to save me."

"I," Kes began hesitantly, then continued, "I’m sorry."

"Look," he said, "I’ve gotta report to the captain. I’ll see you later, okay?"

"Okay, Harry," she said.

U.S.S. Voyager NCC-74656
Mess Hall
Stardate 54029.4
10 January 2377 1758 hrs

"Welcome aboard, Kes," Janeway said, grinning, as they and a large number of the crew stood in the mess hall that evening. "I’m sorry we didn’t give you a better reception, before."

"Understandable," Kes said, "given what I’ve heard."

"How long will you be staying?" Janeway asked.

"I don’t know," Kes admitted. "Some of the Voyagers I’ve been to, I’ve only stayed there for a few moments, others, I was there for months."

"I’d be interested in hearing about them," the captain said. "As far as I know, it’s not that often that timelines interact."

"Some of them were a lot like this one," Kes said, trying to avoid the subject of the misdeeds of some of Janeway’s counterparts. "Mostly, I’ve seen universes where the only differences were little things, like uniforms."

"It still sounds interesting," Janeway said. "Maybe we can talk about them later."

U.S.S. Voyager NCC-74656
Stardate 54036.8
13 January 2377 1127 hrs

"I still can’t believe my eyes," the Doctor said to Kes as they sat in sickbay a few days later. "Figuratively speaking, of course. You look so much like she did."

"I think I may have a lot in common with the Kes you remember," Kes said. "From everything I’ve heard, this timeline has a lot in common with the one I remember."

Suddenly, there was a brilliant flash of light near them, which coalesced into the body of a teenaged boy. Kes recognized that face from the records she’d viewed on one of the Voyagers she’d visited. He looked a little older, but the resemblance was still unmistakable.

"Quentin?" Kes breathed.

The boy eyed her harshly. "Call me Q," he said, sternly. "I only let a few people call me by that other name. And you’re not one of them."

"What are you doing here?" Kes asked as the Doctor looked on in confusion.

"I’ve been watching you, little cousin," Quentin said, suddenly jovial. Apparently, he’d inherited his father’s mercurial attitude. "I wanted to see what it was like for a lesser being to become one of us."

There was another flash of light. "Now, now, q," a voice—that unmistakable voice—said. It was Q. Quentin’s father. "You know what I told you about unsanctioned evolutionary interference."

"Yeah, yeah," said Quentin—q, his father had called him, and Kes could actually hear the difference in the inflection the elder Q had used, and had a glimpse into the full import of its meaning. "The Continuum doesn’t look lightly on it. I was just curious."

"’Little cousin’?" Kes echoed. Could they be saying what she thought they were saying?

"Excuse me," the Doctor interrupted. "Did I hear you correctly? Did you say that she’s becoming a Q?"

"So what if she is?" q blurted, only to receive a stern glare from his father. "Sorry," he muttered.

"You’ve still got a long way to go," Q told Kes, ignoring the EMH. "There’s a lot that you can do now, but you’re still clinging to your mortal life. You’ll never move on if you keep that up. It took the Organians ages before they finally figured that out."

"Maybe I’d prefer that to life in the Continuum," Kes retorted. "I remember what the captain told me after the incident with Quinn. It doesn’t sound like anywhere I’d like to be, even after your civil war shook things up."

"Oh, how quick we are to judge," Q chuckled. "That was only a filtered-down version of the Continuum to keep their inferior little brains from seizing up. You should know, after all. You’ve already been there."

"What?" Kes asked, confused. Then it dawned on her. "You mean… that place that I was at when I left Voyager… was that the Continuum?"

"Yes and no," Q said. "That was just what you were ready to see at that point. There’s much more to it than that."

Kes realized this was her chance to have her questions about that time answered. She had to act quickly, while Q was still interested in answering them. "What was that sensation I had," she began, "of something or someone else everywhere around me? It even seemed like it was in me."

Q laughed, thoroughly amused. "Oh, you have no idea, do you?" he asked. "That was you, Kes. A multitude of yourselves, all in the Continuum. The one that disturbed you so much was one that couldn’t take being in the Continuum, and she went insane. Actually, she’s the same one who tried to destroy this universe’s Voyager."

"I have so many questions," Kes said. "Maybe you could help me–"

"Oh, no," Q said, suddenly aloof once more. "I’ve got my hands full enough watching after this one." He jabbed a thumb in the direction of his son. "Maybe you should find someone else, like that brat Wesley did—although I must say he could have found a much better teacher."

U.S.S. Voyager NCC-74656
Mess Hall
Stardate 54038.2
13 January 2377 2258 hrs

Kes sat in the mess hall in silence, staring out at the stars as they streaked past the windows. The room was virtually empty, as those who weren’t on duty were either sleeping or recreating with friends elsewhere on the ship. Neelix was in the kitchen, cleaning the pots from the last meal and preparing for the next. Kes heard the doors open behind her, and resisted the temptation to turn and see who it was. She reached out with her mind in an effort to "feel" the mind of the person who had just come through the door.

"Hi, Harry," Kes said as he stopped behind her.

"How’re you doing?" he asked. "I heard about Q’s appearance in sickbay earlier today…"

"And you were wondering if what he said was true," Kes completed.

"Yeah," he said.

"So am I," Kes admitted.

"Kes," Harry said, "I wanted to thank you."

"What for?" she asked, confused.

"For being there," he said. "I’ve really needed someone to just talk to about losing Lyndsay again. It helped. Thanks."

"You’re welcome, Harry. I–" She began, but stopped herself.

"What is it?" he asked.

"Nothing," she lied. "There’s someone else. It’s not Lyndsay."

"Seven," he said, almost whispering. A wave of embarrassment washed over him, then onto Kes, like a strong breeze—it almost had physical force to it. "Ever since I first saw her," he continued, "even when she was still fully Borg, I’ve felt something for her. Maybe it was as much loneliness as lust; I don’t know. Not long after she came aboard, we lost Lyndsay. Seven was a friend when I needed one, since Tom was too busy with B’Elanna at the time, and I think that enhanced the attraction, at least on my end. Since she seemed so innocent, so naive, I decided to take it slower with her than I would with another woman. Because I care about her."

"She doesn’t know that," Kes said. "Because of that, she’s drifting away from you. I thought there was something between the two of you when I first arrived because of your body language together. But you haven’t even noticed, have you?" She paused, collecting her thoughts, then continued, "You’re making the same mistake I did: you’re leaving too much unsaid. Don’t wait for her to make the first move, or you’ll end up like me."

"All right," he said after a thoughtful pause, "where do we start?"

U.S.S. Voyager NCC-74656
Astrometrics Lab
Stardate 54053.5
19 January 2377 1347 hrs

Kes reclined against the railing in the Astrometrics lab as Seven of Nine worked at the main control panel in the center of the room. Seven took a PADD from Crewman Tal Celes, a young, insecure Bajoran who had been working in the lab for the past year and a half.

"This data is inaccurate," Seven said harshly. "Rerun the simulation." She thrust the PADD back at the young woman, who took it and quickly retreated into the corridor.

"You could try being a little nicer to her," Kes suggested. "And no, the social niceties aren’t irrelevant. I’ve gotten to know you in the past few timelines; you can’t fool me."

"I am not those women," Seven retorted.

"Maybe not," Kes allowed. "You’ve got a lot in common with them, though. I still know you better than most of the other people on this ship."

"You are telepathic," Seven said. "Additional insight is to be expected."

"There’s more to it than just that," Kes said. "Tell me, what is it about Celes that frustrates you so badly that you feel the need to constantly belittle her?"

"She is inefficient," Seven said.

"That’s not it," Kes said. "Sure, that can be irritating to you, but I get the feeling that there’s something else that bothers you about her."

"I don’t know what you’re talking about," Seven said, focusing her attention on her console.

"I’m right," Kes said, "otherwise you wouldn’t be avoiding me right now." Seven glared into Kes’s eyes as the Ocampan asked, "Does she make you wonder what you might have turned out like, if you hadn’t been assimilated?"

"Have you encountered a timeline," Seven began softly, "where I am not Borg?"

Kes could see the pain in her eyes. "No," she admitted. "Not yet. But that doesn’t mean there’s not one out there."

"Considering that the multiversal model of spacetime seems to have been borne out," Seven began, "I would have to concur. I was simply… curious to learn if you had seen such a timeline."

"No," Kes repeated. "But I have seen a few where you were a lot closer to rejoining humanity. Just because you were assimilated doesn’t mean you can never go back."

U.S.S. Voyager NCC-74656
Kim’s Quarters
Stardate 54059.7
21 January 2377 1937 hrs

"She’s not ready yet," Kes said as she joined Harry for a drink in his quarters. "I’ve been pushing her as far as I dare for the last week."

"She’s come a long way, already," Harry observed. "I’m impressed."

"It helps that I was her psychiatrist for two months in the last timeline I visited," Kes said. "Yours, too, you know."

"You never mentioned that before," Harry said. "Why?"

"It’s not something I like to talk about," Kes said. "Some of the timelines I’ve seen are pretty… disturbing."

"What happened to us in that one?" Harry pressed. "I can take it, Kes. Remember how many times I’ve died already?" His lips curled up in a thin grin.

"You were abducted," Kes began, not knowing quite why she was sharing the story with him, "along with Seven and Jill Hendersen—she’s not part of the crew in this timeline—by a reptilian race that held you captive for nearly a week. They forced you to… engage in sexual activities. By the time Voyager found the three of you, your captors had already inflicted severe psychological damage. When I arrived a year later, the Doctor had made very little progress, but I was able to help, thanks to the psychology training I’d taken before leaving my timeline’s Voyager."

Harry blinked, shocked. "I thought you said the only differences between the timelines you’d seen were minor," he said.

"I don’t like to talk about all of them," Kes said. "I’ve been trying to avoid telling the captain that in another timeline, she was responsible for leading a ring of saboteurs on the ship to keep it in the Delta Quadrant. When I arrived, she’d been caught and court-martialed, and the ship was en route back to the Federation. They should already be back by now; that was more than six months ago."

"That’s… that’s not happening here, is it?" Harry asked.

"No," Kes said. "I already checked. I’ve only seen one other timeline where it did."

U.S.S. Voyager NCC-74656
Cargo Bay Two
Stardate 54063.8
23 January 2377 0746 hrs

"Seven," Kes said, meeting the former drone in Cargo Bay Two near the wall of alcoves. "How are you this morning?"

"I am well," Seven replied. "What… can I do for you?"

"I just wanted to talk to you," Kes said, "about Harry."

"What of Ensign Kim?" Seven asked. "Is he ill?"

"No, he’s fine," Kes said. "But that’s a perfect example of what I wanted to talk to you about."

"What?" Seven asked, oblivious.

"When I mentioned Harry’s name," Kes explained. "What was the first thing that went through your mind? Concern for his welfare."

"He is a valuable member of this crew," Seven said defensively.

"Your stomach tightened up, didn’t it?" Kes asked. "You were afraid for him. Don’t try lying, I already know." Seven’s eyes narrowed almost imperceptibly. "When he walks into a room with you, your heart skips a beat, doesn’t it? Your skin flushes, just a little, and you feel a warm sensation in the pit of your belly. Right?"

"Perhaps," Seven said noncommittally.

"You care about him," Kes said. "You can’t fool me, I’ve felt the same sensations before, and despite your outward control, your emotions flow off of you like radiation from a star. The other telepaths aboard are just too polite to mention it, what with most other species’ discomfort about the idea of having their minds read like an open book. But I know you—you prefer candor. At least, when it won’t be potentially embarrassing to you."

"Kes," Seven began, her voice suddenly vulnerable, but she didn’t know how to finish what she was thinking. Science and computer data was so much more efficient than emotion and the vagaries of what it meant to be human. Could anyone blame her for retreating from that, for keeping things in the realm of the unemotional, something she knew? Unfortunately, as Kes had just pointed out, the division between her emotional and unemotional lives was now so heavily blurred that there could be no further distinction.

"Yes," Kes said, knowing instinctively what Seven was trying to ask. "He cares, too."

U.S.S. Voyager NCC-74656
Astrometrics Lab
Stardate 54081.2
29 January 2377 1617 hrs

"Kim to Seven," Harry’s voice came from the ex-drone’s communicator as she and Kes stood in the Astrometrics lab several days later.

"Seven here," she replied, tapping her communicator. "Go ahead."

"Could you join me in Holodeck Two?" he asked. "I have a simulation I’d like you to review with me." Discomfort at the proposal surged from Seven in invisible waves.

"Seven," Kes said softly, "this can wait until later." Seven opened her mouth to protest, but Kes held up a hand, her eyes meeting Seven’s and demanding silent attention. "I’ll watch the children," she said. "You need some time off. Go. Be with Harry."

"Very well," Seven said. "I will join you shortly, ensign. Seven out."

The holodeck doors parted and Seven stepped through onto a vast, grassy plateau. She saw Harry standing a few meters away, and walked over to see him.

"You called for me," Seven said.

"Yes," Harry replied.

"To what end?" she asked. "What is this simulation?"

"For your first question," he said, "consider this a date. As for the second, welcome to Ktaria. The moon will be rising shortly." A grin spread across his face.

"Why?" she asked.

"I’d… like to change the nature," Harry said, echoing her words from nearly three years before, "of our affiliation."

"Are you in love with me, ensign?" Seven asked.

"Honestly," he began, "I don’t know. But I’d like the opportunity to find out. For both of us to find out."

"How, then, shall we proceed?" she asked.

"One step at a time," he said. "For now, let’s just get to know each other better."

"Very well, ensign," she said.

"Call me Harry," he said. "If we’re going to be in a romantic affiliation, we should have the closeness of using our given names."

"I understand," she said. "Then you may call me Annika."

"Annika?" he asked, surprised.

"If I am to call you ‘Harry’ as a verbal symbol of our affiliation," she explained, "then you should have a unique way to acknowledge that affiliation as well."

"I thought you didn’t want to be called by your human name," Harry said. "I thought it was too painful a memory."

"Kes has shown me many things I did not understand before," Seven admitted. "Annika Hansen ceased to be when she was assimilated into the Collective. Seven of Nine ceased to be when she was separated from it. From that time, I have been… someone else. A new identity is required; perhaps, for now, it will simply be ‘Annika.’"

U.S.S. Voyager NCC-74656
Cargo Bay Two
Stardate 54082.0
29 January 2377 2311 hrs

It was late. Icheb, Azan, Rebi and Mezoti were regenerating, standing stiffly in their alcoves. Kes found the sight rather disturbing, like something out of the old black-and-white horror movies Tom would subject himself and his friends to in her timeline.

As she finished preparing the cot she’d pulled from one of the crates in the cargo bay, Harry and Seven materialized nearby.

She was cradled in Harry’s arms, having fallen asleep with him while watching the moonrise on the holodeck. He carried her over and set her gently down onto the cot.

"How did you know?" he asked. Kes tapped a finger against her forehead. "Oh," he said. "Right." He brushed a kiss against Seven’s—Annika’s—cheek, then stepped back and stood beside Kes.

"Thank you," he said.

"You’d do the same for me," Kes said. "Good luck, Harry."

"You’re leaving?" he asked.

"Not immediately," Kes said. "But I can’t stay here."

"What is it?" he asked.

"Nothing," Kes said quickly.

"It’s not nothing," Harry said, "or you wouldn’t be leaving."

"What I’m looking for isn’t here," Kes said.

"What are you looking for?" Harry asked.

"My soulmate," Kes said. "But in every timeline I’ve seen so far, he’s with someone else already."

"Does Tom know you feel this way?" Harry asked.

"It’s not Tom," Kes said. "Or Neelix, either." Kes looked at him intensely.

Meeting her gaze, realization finally dawned on Harry. "You mean it’s me?" he asked in astonishment. Kes nodded.

"This is my penance, I suppose," Kes murmured.

"Penance?" Harry echoed, confused. "For what?"

"In one of the first timelines I encountered," Kes explained, "Voyager never made it out of Borg space, even with my help. I was there when the Borg boarded the ship. I could have prevented their assimilation, but I thought it wasn’t real!" Tears began to stream from the corners of her eyes. "In how many timelines did I condemn my friends to death, just because I didn’t think they were real?"

Harry took hold of her shoulders, grasping them reassuringly. "Kes," he said, "it’s not your fault."

"Is it?" she asked, sobbing. "And what about what Q said? If I try to love someone, I’ll only be holding myself back! Maybe I’ll never find what I’m looking for!"

Harry pulled her tightly against him, rocking her gently as she sobbed. "You can’t give up hope," he said. "It’s the only thing that’s kept me going for the last six years. You said it yourself—the multiverse is so close to infinity that anything is possible. My mom used to tell me that if you fall down, you have to get right back up and try again. You have to try again. What do you have to lose? And if that doesn’t work, then just get right back up do it again. Okay?"

Kes sniffled, then looked up into Harry’s eyes. "Thank you," she said. "That’s… that’s why I love you."

"Get some sleep," Harry said gently. "You’ve got a big trip ahead of you tomorrow."


Category : ParallelsVersion 2.0

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