In the final installment of the "More Than a Lifetime" series, Dani Janeway's latest mission leads her back to where it all began - Jonathan Archer's Enterprise.
Author's Note: This story is the seventh in a series of stories that do not follow canon and should not be taken as such. The previous stories, in order, are: 1) Delta Wild, 2) Homecoming, 3) Graduation, 4) A Love Less Ordinary, 5) Return to Normal, 6) Sweetest Sin, and 7) Deliberation. The events in these stories occur in an alternate universe in which Chakotay's stint with the Maquis happened much earlier in his life. He is married to Kathryn Janeway, and they have a daughter. In this universe, Voyager did not combine with a crew from a Maquis ship, but instead reached the Delta Quadrant with a small loss of life and most of her crew in tact. The events of "First Contact" and "Insurrection" have already occurred in this timeline, but "Nemesis" has not. The Dominion War occurred, but with vastly different results. Many of the events of the final season of Deep Space Nine didn't occur, which means the characters who died during the season are not dead in my stories. Please overlook any other inconsistencies or errors pertaining to the original Star Trek universe as the author's ignorance.
This story contains mature themes, language, and sexual situations.
Disclaimer: All the characters, except Dani and other original characters who do not appear on screen or in print elsewhere, belong to Paramount. I do not own them or claim to. This story was produced and is presented purely for the enjoyment of the readers. I don't make any money from this, and this story may not be used for any such purpose. If you wish to use my story for purposes other than monetary gain, please do so, as long as my name and this disclaimer remain attached to it.
1. THE FRYING PAN
Lt. Commander Danielle Janeway gazed through the tall windows in the Enterprise E’s observation lounge. Deep Space Nine provided the view. The Enterprise had been docked there for the last two days on a scheduled maintenance stop. Dani hadn’t set foot on the station, yet, though she was eager to catch up with some old friends over there. At the moment, she sat in the Enterprise’s observation lounge, trying to figure out why on Earth she was there. She’d been summoned by Captain Picard, but he was no where in sight as of yet. Commander William Riker’s entrance made little difference. He was almost always present at Enterprise staff meetings regardless of the topic. He sat down in his usual chair, near the head of the table where Picard’s chair was parked.
Dani swiveled to face Will. “I didn’t think we had a meeting today. Do you know what this is about?”
Will shook his head. “No clue. I thought you might know.”
“You would know better than I would, First Officer. Why would I know?”
The doors to the room swished open, and Captain Chakotay and Commander Tuvok entered.
Her father had been the last person in the galaxy Dani had expected to walk into the room. “What are you doing here?”
Chakotay grinned at his daughter’s shocked expression. “It’s good to see you, too.”
Dani watched Chakotay take his seat beside her. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean it like that. I just wasn’t expecting you.”
She didn’t expect the next two people who walked in, either. Dr. Julian Bashir and Captain Benjamin Sisko entered next.
Will watched Sisko and Bashir take seats across from himself, Dani and Chakotay. He was just as confused as everyone else in the room. “So, do any of you know why we’re here?”
“I was hoping one of you might have the answer to that,” Julian said.
“I have the answer to that.”
All heads turned to the door. Admiral Kathryn Janeway strode into the conference room with a young assistant at her heels.
Dani and Chakotay exchanged puzzled looks. This meeting had apparently turned into an impromptu family reunion.
Kathryn took Captain Picard’s usual seat. Her assistant stood next to her, ready to answer to any request or order that she might give. Kathryn turned to the officers around the table. “Good afternoon. Thank you for meeting with me on such short notice.”
“What’s going on?” Chakotay asked.
“A situation has developed on Tandar Prime,” Kathryn began. “The Suliban Cabal has presented a threat to the Federation.”
Sisko’s brows furrowed. “The Suliban Cabal? They haven’t been active in two centuries.”
“I know,” Kathryn said. “But we have intelligence reports that indicate recent activity, activity that suggests they are planning an imminent attack in the very near future.”
“What kind of attack?” Will asked.
“Biological,” Kathryn replied. “They’ve created a disease of some sort to be deployed somewhere within the Alpha Quadrant. We don’t know the details about the characteristics of the disease, only that it’s fatal to all the major Alpha Quadrant races. It’s fortunate that our people at Starfleet Intelligence were able to pick up on this when they did. Had we not known, the outcome could have been catastrophic.”
“Why would they want to do something like this?” Dani asked. “The Suliban have been a generally peaceful species for so long. They didn’t even get involved during the Dominion War.”
“Actually, they were involved in the Dominion War,” Kathryn said. “We just didn’t know it. The Cabal worked for the Dominion during the war. Their chameleon abilities made them perfect candidates for espionage activities. They gathered information, mostly, but in some cases they were responsible for sabotage.”
“I’ll be damned,” Sisko said.
“We believe that the Cabal may be engaging in this type of behavior again, with war in the Alpha Quadrant being their goal,” Kathryn said.
“But there aren’t enough Suliban to take on the entire quadrant,” Julian said. “Are they trying to ally with someone?”
“No. They don’t want to take on the quadrant; they want the quadrant to take on itself. They want the Alpha Quadrant races to turn on each other and create all-out war with one another.”
“By resorting to old tried-and-true tactics,” Will said. “Make an aggressive move, then pin the blame on someone else.”
Kathryn nodded. Will was right on the money with his assessment. “We think this attack may be the first such move. But there are a few unknown variables: We don’t know who the target is, and we don’t know who the Cabal is planning to frame for the attack.”
“So, how do we stop this from happening?” Dani asked. “There has to be a plan, or you wouldn’t be telling us this.”
“That’s where all of you come in,” Kathryn said. “You are my extraction team. Your assignment is to go in, retrieve the disease, and neutralize it. None of you are wet-behind-the-ears ensigns fresh out of the Academy, and you all have experience carrying out covert missions. Each of you was chosen because you’re among the best at what you do. Consequently, I expect nothing less.”
She nodded to her assistant, a wet-behind-the-ears ensign fresh out of the Academy. The young man promptly produced a short stack of PADDs, which he handed to the admiral. She handed the stack to Riker, and he took one off the top, passing it on to Dani.
Dani couldn’t understand it. Once again she found herself being briefed on a secret mission that she was going to be part of. How was she in this situation again, especially after what had happened the last time?
Of course, Dani rationalized, only a few people knew the truth behind her mission to Cardassia the previous year. Officially, the mission was an unbelievable success. Officially, Dani had ensured the release of Federation ambassador Hea Starr from the Cardassian labor camp by offering herself as a replacement. She was rescued months later. She was determined to have developed Stockholm syndrome and underwent counseling under the care of Deanna Troi.
The unofficial truth of the situation would be enough to get Dani booted out of Starfleet for treason and dereliction of duty. The real reason she’d remained on Cardassia was the lure of another chance to have a life with Marac Dukat. That had been the one and only reason she’d remained on Cardassia. But Starr had told a different story when he was debriefed. His version of the story became the official version.
“These are the details of your mission,” Kathryn said, referring to the PADDs.
Dani’s eyes eagerly skipped across the PADD as soon as she received it. The Defiant would transport them to Tandar Prime. Once there, the away team was supposed to take a runabout to the surface. From there, three members of the team would begin the retrieval portion of the mission. The biomatter was located in a secret facility run by the Suliban. The team was supposed to gain access to the facility and locate the biomatter, which was on the facility’s lowest level.
Kathryn turned to her assistant, who promptly handed her what looked like a typical tricorder. She opened it and displayed it for everyone at the table. “The Daestrom Institute has provided us with this modified tricorder, which has been calibrated to scan specifically for the diseases components,” she said. She handed it to Bashir, who took it and began to study it.
“There’s one more objective to this mission,” Kathryn said. “Before you leave the facility, you need to damage the Cabal’s computer database to prevent them, or at the very least delay them, from synthesizing a replacement batch of the disease. You’ll do this by uploading a virus to their computer. Our people believe that this will also deactivate the forcefields around the facility and disarm any alarms. The runabout will be standing by to beam you back once you signal. Are there any questions?”
“This sounds like a good plan,” Chakotay began, “but what’s to stop the Cabal from synthesizing the disease again at some point down the line? How do we move beyond a temporary solution and get at the heart of the problem?”
“We don’t,” Kathryn replied. “We can’t, not without killing every Suliban in the galaxy. That’s the only way to ensure that the Cabal don’t reemerge and try this again later.”
She rose from her seat and walked over to the large windows. “When fighting terrorism, there are no guarantees. We have to take it one day at a time. Yes, this is only a temporary solution.” She turned to face the officers again. “But it’s the only solution we’ve got right now. This mission isn’t supposed to end everything. It might; we don’t know. We don’t know if this attack was supposed to be the only one or he first of many. We have to fight based on what we know, and what we know is that this particular attack was eminent.”
She returned to her seat but remained standing behind it. “Are there any more questions?” No one said anything or made a move. “This is a serious mission, but I have the utmost faith in each and every one of you. The Defiant leaves for Tandar Prime one week from today. You’re all dismissed.”
Everyone rose and began to file out of the observation lounge. “Dani,” Kathryn said.
Dani stopped just short of the door. She turned and walked over Kathryn.
“I didn’t want to drop in like this and surprise you,” Kathryn said, “but I didn’t have much of a choice. This mission is classified to the highest levels, and I didn’t have the luxury of telling anyone, even your father.”
“I understand that,” Dani said. “What I can’t understand is why I’ve been tapped for this mission. After what happened on my last special mission, I can’t imagine that Starfleet Intelligence would want me on another mission for them.”
“That’s where you’re wrong,” Kathryn said. “The head of Starfleet Intelligence is very impressed with your work. She specifically requested you for this mission.”
“Admiral Nechayev?” Dani said. “She requested me?”
Kathryn nodded. “Dani, we both know what really happened on Cardassia, but the entire Federation was privy to a different version because of Ambassador Starr. Dani, you’re a remarkable officer, regardless of what really happened with Dukat. And I’m not just saying that because I’m your mother. That’s my professional opinion, and I would say it even if we weren’t related. In a way, Starr’s return legitimated your Starfleet career for everyone else. You have to remember that it’s his version of the story that they’re reacting to.”
“First they hate me, then they love me,” Dani said. “I wish they would just make up their minds.”
Kathryn chuckled at her daughter’s exasperated demeanor. “Well, you do have to admit: having people love you is a lot better than having them hate you.”