The End

by dossier

Notes & Warnings

She heard the sound of the communications station hailing her in the dream, but it had remained, insistent and annoying in frequency as she'd struggled awake. She leaped out of the ready room, ran at break neck speed to the station and activated the view screen to finally see another living being.

"Socity Science Vessel Janeway hailing Voyager, come in Voyager." Ch'althar, captain of the Janeway, appeared before Naomi, and she stood transfixed at the sight before her, drinking it in. He spoke again, startling her out of reverie. She moved to the center of the bridge to respond.

"Acting Captain, Naomi Wildman of the Federation Vessel Voyager, at your service."

"I can assure you, the pleasure is all mine. Our search for you has proved to be brief, indeed. We have Voyager on our long range scanners, what is your status on board?" The acting captain remark had piqued Ch'althars' curiosity, but he could see that now was not the time for an interrogation.

Naomi swallowed back the sudden lump in her throat and nodded dumbly. She couldn't say anything; she just stood there trembling. Captain Ch'althar waited patiently for a moment and asked softly, "Wildman, are you alone?" She nodded again. "We are not yet in transporter range, it will be approximately two standard days before we reach you. Do you understand?"

Naomi managed to whisper, "Yes."

Ch'althar continued "When we are within range I would like to send an evaluation team to Voyager. This will be comprised of medical, engineering, historical and bridge personnel. Is this acceptable to you?"

She nodded affirmative, and the soundless tears streamed down her face. Speech had deserted her again, and she studied the floor before her. Ch'althar turned his head, and nodded to an off screen crewmember. A flurry of activity erupted on the bridge of the Janeway. He granted her the illusion of privacy by not looking toward the scanner. After an intense conversation with the communications officer, he turned toward her again. "Wildman, I've arranged for us to leave an open channel to your viewscreen. It will remain on as long as you want. There will be personnel here at all times. Is this adequate assurance that we are not a hallucination?"

Naomi sucked in a huge breath, and regained her composure. "Yes, thank you."

She sat down at the helm, and absently ran her hands over the controls as she had done for so many decades, and it made her think briefly of Tom Paris, and smiled indulgently at her long-past youth. And now, at the end of her life, she had completed the quest passed onto her by her family aboard. It was as the sole remaining member of Voyager that Naomi Wildman had brought the beleaguered ship back to the Alpha Quadrant. The wait was over, Voyager was home. A gentle noise interrupted her reverie.

Captain Ch'althar cleared his throat, and awaited Wildman's attention. When she looked up, he spoke. "You look like you have something on your mind, Wildman?"

"I'm thinking about the end of my journey. You know, I've never been to the Alpha Quadrant. I was born on Voyager in the Delta Quadrant. This expedition has been my whole life."

He nodded, "You are in a most unique position. I can download to you a historical file, covering the period from Voyager's departure from DS9 to present day. Read it over, and then I'll try my best to answer your questions." He smiled at her, and she returned the smile and replied, "Fair enough, I've needed some new reading material for some time now. But first, why did you start to look for Voyager now?"

His countenance became impassive; "We hadn't the luxury of looking until very recently. With the information we had come by during the course of events, we knew that if Voyager was still on her way, extrapolated vector would place your heading near these coordinates." She could tell there was more, but she let it slide. She would find out eventually. She moved to the communications station to receive the data squirt, and start catching up on what she had never missed.

After an all night reading marathon, Naomi felt overwhelmed by the information she had barely skimmed. Sixty years the Alpha Quadrant had spent fending off the Dominion, Borg, each other. Alliances and treaties rising and falling like ocean waves. She was a bit shaky from lack of sleep, but was determined to talk with Captain Ch'althar. They looked so young; how did The Society get off sending children on a rescue mission that was a lifetime too late? Shaking her head at the thought, Naomi stepped into the sonic 'fresher and wished for a surfeit of water to run down her body.

Ch'althar and Wildman spent the rest of the day talking about the Alpha Quadrant, filling in the gaps left by excessive ground to cover, and elaborating on the points salient to Wildman. Apparently she had family of sorts. Her father Greskrendrek had remarried and had another family that was wholly Ktarian, and her half-siblings were dandling grand babes on their knees, while she was here alone. There were her mothers' distant relatives as well, and she would have to let that percolate through her system before she decided how she felt about it.

The conversation dragged on into "night". The ship's computer slowly lowered the lights, and finally Naomi sat in the dim light of what was Gamma shift. She could not keep herself awake any longer, but it would only be a few more hours before the scent of another sentient being joined her on the flying memorial. Naomi took her leave of Ch'althar and restless dreams of her past companions crowded her as she slept.

Morning arrived in the way it always did, the lights came up and the computer stated time and date, both irrelevant to her life. She'd never been awakened by the sun shining on her face through an open window, not by rain falling on a roof, or by a beloved pet's wet nose. She was the reason there had never been any other children born on Voyager. Her tiny form had emphasized all that was wrong with family life onboard, and so she became the defacto offspring for the entire ship. Naomi Wildman was the vessel of their desire, and Voyager was the manifestation of their dreams.

A moment after she awoke, Wildman remembered the impossible events of yesterday, and bolted to the door to check the view screen. There was the bridge crew of the Janeway working quietly, and the Captain was in conference with his XO. She started to breath again, and returned to the ready room/sleeping quarters. She replicated breakfast, and sat down to eat and study a file she had skipped before.

She dressed more carefully than she had in years, and stepped onto the bridge filled with excitement. Naomi had been barely able to absorb the momentous events of yesterday, and now she could scarcely wait for the Janeway to reach her. She walked around to each station and verified status, made minor adjustments, then settled herself at the helm by habit, to watch Ch'althar move from station to station, speaking with the crew his XO at his side.

He looked up at her. "Good Day, Wildman, I trust you rested well?"

"Yes, thank you I did."

"Very good. Give me a few moments, and I will be at your disposal."

She nodded, and he turned back to the Commander at his side.

Naomi studied each crewmember, and they all appeared to be of the same species as the captain. She knew what Romulans looked like, although she had never met one personally. Soon she was going to have a chance to see, touch and feel them around her. A wave of anxiety mixed with dread threatened to overwhelm her again, but she closed her eyes, took a deep breath and willed herself to calmness.

Ch'althar was soon seated in his chair. "Now, where we? Do you have any questions?"

"Yes, I do. I am curious about how much is known about Voyager's trip back to the Alpha Quadrant?"

Ch'althar looked uncomfortable, but replied honestly. "The Borg, you've familiarized yourself with their defeat? The captured vinculus nodes were analyzed; their information was downloaded and categorized while we looked for intelligence. We found an entire section devoted to Voyager, and with other data, your course was extrapolated."

Naomi nodded. 7 of 9 had been re-assimilated into the Collective along with some other crewmen, and Kathryn Janeway had nearly gone mad. She had beaten them so many other times before, with Voyager barely escaping with her precious cargo. But, after Seven had returned to the Collective, there was no other contact with the Borg. Either Voyager had become unimportant, or Seven had retained some shred of her humanity and had rated the game in favor of her former shipmates.

"What other sources of information did you have? How much of what we transmitted arrived?"

"Much information was received over the years, it was examined, then appended to the Federation files until such time action could be taken."

"Yes, I see." The flat reply was rife with accusation.

Ch'althar shifted uneasily in his seat, "Wildman, the Federation was unable to act on the data because of the unrest in the Alpha Quadrant. It is unfortunate that it was a low priority but after the Borg War, all resources were shunted towards rebuilding, and stabilizing the new Society." He paused to let her reflect.

Wildman's eyes glimmered, but did not spill over. It was just so hard having her suspicions confirmed after six decades of debate. She decided she did not want to delve into this after all. "Let's not, sorry I asked. Tell me more about this new "Society".

Ch'althar complied, and spoke at length about the Dominion's retreat, the final fall of the Klingon Empire from internal strife and greed, the plotting and scheming of the Romulans to usurp the territory; and how the Federation was forced to take the Klingons in as a Protectorate. At that point the Borg decided to appear en masse in the Alpha Quadrant, and that was the impetus to form a coalition. The Society was a confederacy born of strife, made up by the Federation, the Romulans, Cardassia and all the former un-allied Worlds, and an uneasy peace reigned between them.

She had skimmed over much of this information already, and while she did like hearing Ch'althar speak, she was starting to get a little antsy. He nodded, and concluded, "I'm sure that you'll have plenty of time for elaboration later, if you like. My XO has gathered the away team for a briefing and if you would indulge us, we'd like you to join us in the conference room. They have a few questions, if you can imagine that." His gentle humor reminded her of Chakotay.

"Yes, that would be excellent, I'm looking forward to meeting them."

At that, her viewpoint was switched to the interior of the conference room that looked like any conference room aboard a Federation ship. Captain Ch'althar took a seat at the end opposite the view screen to face her, and the introductions were quickly made around the table, but they remained nameless to her. Maybe once they were on board, she thought.

They spent hours going over the all information she could give them prior to their arrival on the engineering and technical components of the ship. The additions and deletions of alien technology of the Delta Quadrant were expected, and they seemed eager to deal with it. The Janeway's doctor queried her about the status of her health and Sickbay, the disposition of the EMH, and made notes for her staff. The XO asked questions about the ship in general, the ship's computers, data storage, etcetera. The crew of the Janeway treated her with respect and awe during the briefing session. It made her a little uncomfortable, but she pushed it to the back of her mind. Ch'althar made sure the staff had the information they required, and then dismissed them with instructions to return with their reports for another briefing prior to beaming over.

"Captain Wildman, now that you're familiar with some of our mission parameters, I would like to discuss several possible scenarios, and I will defer to your preference in this matter, if at all possible."

She nodded to Ch'althar. "Very well, let's hear it."

"My crew is going to transport to Voyager and perform a complete assessment of her space-worthiness, and determine the possibility of upgrading certain systems. The results from this evaluation will support either Voyager's scavenge and disposal, or we'll create a plan for her eventual return to Deep Space 9. Voyager may be able to make it back to DS9 in approximately eighteen months after the repairs. The Janeway is only thirty days out, as we have made a few advances in propulsion technology." He smiled briefly. "Either way, I would like you on board the Janeway to return to Deep Space 9 as soon as possible." Naomi nodded, but didn't interrupt. "I can tell you that the entire Alpha Quadrant is awaiting your arrival with a significant amount of excitement, but please consider the possibility that your ship may not return with you."

She was dazed by the information; Voyager destroyed almost within hailing distance of her objective?

There was an off screen voice, and Ch'althar looked away. "One moment, Wildman." He conferred head to head with the yeoman, and nodded.

"We have an updated ETA, the away team is be prepared to transport in seven hours. They would like you to remain on board to assist in their survey. Please reflect upon your options. Now, I have a few things I must attend to, if you'll excuse me?"

"Captain Ch'althar. A moment before you go. What do you think is the likelihood that Voyager will not return to the Alpha quadrant?"

"I do not wish to mislead you. It is a distinct possibility."

"Thank you."

He bowed slightly to her and turned to leave the conference room.

The view on the screen followed Ch'althar back to the bridge, and Naomi was suddenly exhausted. She had spent too many hours wound up in tight knots of stress, had slept insufficiently and she badly needed to meditate. She returned to the ready room, and laid on her back in the middle of the floor, closed her eyes and started breathing deeply, focusing on her navel. Tuvok had always disapproved of her technique, but could not deny that it accomplished the task. Emptying her mind, concentrating on *not* being, and working on the problem at hand.

Work at it logically, start from the beginning. Voyager was a weak integrity field away from disintegration, but Wildman's mandate was to return the ship to the Alpha Quadrant. It could be said quite reasonably that the point at which they found her was now the outer limit of known space, and she was therefore "home". The argument was an old one; she had debated it often enough as a teenager with her mother. Was it the letter of the law, or the intent of the law? If Ch'althar was honest in his offer to abide by her decision, she could prevent Voyager's destruction, and continue to limp home for what would seem to be the next eon. Not a very attractive proposition, she had to admit. She also had to acknowledge that she was indeed working with incomplete information. The ship may not be in such bad shape, and there were sentimental and historical forces working for Voyager's return home as well.

Concluding that she could only wait until all the facts were in, Naomi decided to nap until the scheduled rendezvous. Instructing the computer to wake her in four hours, she promptly fell asleep on the floor.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Naomi's body reminded her sharply upon awakening that she was too old to sleep on the floor. Determined to not lie there awaiting rescue, she rolled over onto her hands and knees, worked the kinks out, and managed to stand. "Whuff". She took another sonic shower, and dressed. It had been so long. She brushed aside the thought and stepped onto the bridge with a cup of raktajino.

"I'm positively excited!" she said to no one in particular.

"Pardon, I didn't hear you. What was that?'" Ch'althar asked.

Naomi laughed, "I'm sorry, old habits, I was talking to myself. It may not have kept me from going mad, but it does help keep me company!"

"You do not appear to me to be mad at all. I have avoided asking this, but how long have you been alone?"

"It has been nearly two years, Captain Janeway was the last. The rest, well. It's a long story, if you care for the particulars."

"I am amazed at your fortitude, I can not imagine the difficulty of your situation. I hope that you will have time to recount some of your tales to me."

The bitter loneliness was diminishing rapidly, and exhilaration rose to replace it. "I think I can be imposed upon. I would like to tell you about the crew of the Voyager."

The appointed hour came, and the team of Romulans beamed on board Voyager. They greeted her carefully as befitting a legend, and their superior. It was intoxicating to hear, feel and smell them around her; she was drunk on pheromones. The XO reintroduced himself as Sybvek, and in person, she could see that he appeared slightly different than his crewmates. He asked her to take him and the away team on a tour of the ship, and show them the pertinent areas. They dropped crewmembers off at Engineering, Sickbay, and the computer core, and returned to the bridge. The new pilot settled into Tom's seat, and Naomi felt a twinge of unreasoning jealousy at her sitting there. Turning toward Sybvek, she asked if she could help anywhere in particular.

"Captain, my first order of business is to back up the logs so they can return with the Janeway, perhaps I can ask you to assist me with this."

Relief. She wasn't to be relegated to the status of doddering elder, even if he was lying and knew more about this than she did. "Yes, I would be glad to. This station is the standard interface. The logs are accessed via this strand, what are you downloading them to?" They worked together until Engineering asked for her to assist them in tracing the background of Delta Quadrant modifications. The hours flew past. The crew of the Janeway either adored her or they were highly trained professionals in psychology, or both. They made her feel like an integral part of the process, more than just an appendage of the ship. She felt needed and appreciated, it was all too overwhelming, and she needed a break. Escaping into a broken holodeck, she panted for breath, it was suddenly too crowded on this ship. If twenty-two persons could be called a crowd. It was hard to be overrun with people after two years of uninterrupted solitude. Naomi decided that hiding out on the holodeck was nuts, and she was going to go to her ready room, and sit in a real chair.

She silently entered the bridge, nodded to the crew (?!) at their stations, went directly to her ready room, and sat down behind the desk. She leaned back in the chair, put her feet up and closed her eyes. Almost immediately she heard a noise, and it took a moment to process it. The door chime, oh yes. "Come."

Sybvek stepped inside, and paused when he saw her in a state of repose. Wildman kept her eyes closed in defiance, and asked, "Yes?"

"As Captain of the Voyager, Ch'althar recommended that I report to you. I have the initial assessment completed." It was an unnecessary gesture of respect on Ch'althar's part and Sybvek did not seem discomposed by it. She could grow to like these Romulans. Smart, logical and passionate, it was an intoxicating combination. She wanted to hear the report, and she wanted to know more about Sybvek, too. She opened her eyes, sat up and gave the Janeway's First Officer her complete attention.

"The warp core is irreparable, hull integrity is minimal but acceptable. The central processing core is in excellent shape, and the logs are still viable. That was a concern due to the report of the EMH being off-line. That is still under investigation. The navigational controls are in reasonable condition; the deflector dish will be upgraded rather than repaired. With the installation of a new warp core, I believe your ship will be on her way home."

Too many days of too little sleep, too much stress and worry for too many years had weakened her defenses. Naomi Wildman broke down and cried. Sobbing uncontrollably, she then started to laugh at herself as she sank toward total meltdown. Sybvek watched her circumspectly, but he did not interfere. He let her have her little nervous breakdown. Eventually she was emptied of tears and hysterics, and she wiped her eyes with a sleeve. "I bet you didn't want to see that. My apologies."

Sybvek nodded his head slightly. "No apology required, Captain Wildman. I cannot imagine being in your situation, nor the emotional response it would engender in me."

"I never thought that this day would come, I had really thought I would die before I reached the Alpha Quadrant. Now that I seem to have attained the impossible, I'm a bit at loose ends. I'm relieved, terrified, overjoyed and scared. Any recommendations?"

He shook his head. "No."

"Well then, I'll have to take a moment to gather my wits! If you'll pardon me a moment? She stood up and replicated a glass of water, drank most of it on her way to the 'fresher, dampened a towel with the rest and wiped her face. She combed her hair and took a few deep breaths to ease the tremors, then stepped back into the ready room. Commander Sybvek still stood in front of the desk. Naomi immediately felt chastened. "Forgive me my rudeness, please, have a seat. Would you like something to drink?"

"Yes, thank you, water." He sat in the chair very straight, but managed to not look uncomfortable doing it. Wildman returned with a cup of raktajino and a glass of cold water, and sat back down behind the desk. "Now where were we before I so rudely interrupted you? Ah, yes, it will be possible for Voyager to finish her voyage."

"It is a likelihood at this point. We intend to make a valiant effort towards accomplishing that end. The ship itself is a reminder of what the human spirit can endure and achieve, and the data she houses is equally important. We have to honor the ferocity with which Captain Janeway fought to return her ship and crew home. To do no less would besmirch that effort."

Naomi looked stunned. They understood. They weren't here to defeat her purpose; the crew of the Janeway was her ally. Ch'althar was doing exactly what he said, merely warning her of the possibility, not trying to ease her out of the ship in order to leave it behind in fragments.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Former Acting Captain Naomi Wildman was standing on the transporter pad of Voyager, facing the shiny young crew that had come to see her depart for the Janeway. Commander Sybvek had taken command of Voyager, and the tiny crew that was going to take the ship on her final leg home had all joined together in a valediction. As she surveyed their faces, she thought of the bon voyage party the Janeway's crew had in the dining room for her. She'd seen Neelix's apparition hovering amongst them, clucking over the arrangements. Perhaps she was crazy, but she had been seeing them every where for weeks now, Kathryn Janeway had watched while she assisted with the retrofit; Chakotay, Tuvok, and Paris lurked over her as she closed box after box and packed her entire life into crates. The shades of Voyager's crew now stood shoulder to shoulder with the Janeway's crew, waving a silent farewell that only she could see.

Naomi Wildman lifted her hand briefly in reply, barely prevented herself from stepping off the transporter as her resolution wavered. She steeled herself to the adventure that was ahead of her, and spoke one last word of command.

"Energize."

~fini~


Notes

Fandom: Star Trek "Voyager"

Category/Rated: Gen, G (AU)

Year/Length: 1997/ ~4100

Disclaimer: Not mine, no profit, only having fun.

Summary: Naomi Wildman finally comes home.

Author's Notes: I originally intended for this to be a series of Scheherezade style stories.

Beta: some guy named Chris from the defunct ScifiCities BBS.

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