'If I'm lucky, I might be able to go the whole trip with out getting caught,' Dani thought as she left the transporter room.
She ventured into the hallway, cautiously looking all around her. To her surprise, she didn't see any crew members in the hallway. She walked on with a little more confidence. Then she stopped. She couldn't wander the hallways forever. She needed a hiding place. She listened. Footsteps. Someone was coming. She would need to find a hiding place fast. She looked around. The there was no where. She couldn't risk going into a room. There could be someone in it. Her eyes scanned the wall she was standing beside, from top to bottom. And there it was. Her salvation--a jeffries tube. She bent down and, with some force, removed the cover. She scurried into the tube. Once she was in, she reached out and picked up the door. She pulled it shut.
Just as the conduit door was being pulled shut, Captain Kathryn Janeway was coming around the corner. Tuvok, Voyager's chief tactical officer, was with her.
"All systems are on-line and operating at peak efficiency," Tuvok reported.
"Thank you, Lt.," the captain said. "Are we ready to disembark?"
"We are." The two stepped into a waiting turbo lift. The doors slid closed and the turbo lift began to move upward.
"Are you ready for this, Lt.?" Janeway asked her second officer. The Vulcan continued to stare straight ahead.
Janeway sighed and rephrased her question. "Are you prepared to undertake this mission?"
Tuvok looked at his captain. "Yes. I must say that I am very well-prepared."
"What about our crew?" Janeway asked. "Do you think they can handle this?"
"The first voyage of a new ship is always...trying," Tuvok said. "However, I believe we have an exceptional crew and that the transition will be less trying than usual."
Tuvok's assurance that they had a good crew somehow made Kathryn feel better about the first assignment on this new ship.
The turbo lift came to a halt and the doors opened. Kathryn glided onto the bridge.
"Captain on the bridge!" someone announced. The crew members on the bridge stood abruptly at attention.
Kathryn proceeded slowly toward the captain's chair. Her chair. Chakotay was standing in front of his chair, which was positioned beside hers. Kathryn stopped in front of her chair. She turned and looked at the officers, her officers, standing around the bridge.
"At ease," Kathryn said. The officers relaxed and went back to doing what they were doing before she'd arrived. Kathryn looked at her first officer, who remained standing in front of his chair.
"Welcome to the bridge, Captain," Chakotay said with a little grin. Kathryn grinned back at him.
"Thank you, Commander," Kathryn said. Chakotay gestured toward the captain's chair. Kathryn looked at it. She walked over to it and sat down. Chakotay sat down only after she did. 'Chivalry,' Kathryn thought, running her hands over the arms of the chair. A brand new ship. All hers. She looked at her helm officer, Tom Paris, sitting at the pilot's station. He was facing her, awaiting her orders.
"Mr. Paris," Kathryn said, "take us out."
"Aye-aye, Captain," Paris said, swiveling around to face his console. Kathryn watched the view screen intently as the ship slowly moved away from Deep Space Nine.
"Did Dani seem okay when you left her?" Chakotay asked.
"Yes," Kathryn answered. "Why?"
"She seemed upset earlier," Chakotay revealed. Kathryn looked over at her husband.
"Oh, you mean that?" Kathryn asked. "Yes, she was still a little upset, but she's just going to have to get over it, Chakotay. We've both got jobs to do and she's just going to have to learn how to accept that." She kept her voice low, so that the other crew members couldn't hear the content of their conversation.
"But, Kathryn-you have to understand that this is a big change for her. And it is a little sudden. It's going to take a little getting used to. For all of us. We'd gotten into a pretty comfortable routine when I was teaching at the academy."
"I know. I just thought that now that she's older, she could handle it. In fact, I thought she'd enjoy some time to herself," Kathryn admitted. "I mean, in a few years, she's going to be begging us to leave her alone."
"We just need to give her time," Chakotay said.
Chakotay and Kathryn looked at the view screen ahead of them. They were no longer at on of DS9's space docks. The captain and the first officer looked at each other. Kathryn looked back at the screen.
"Mr. Paris, set a course for the Badlands and engage," Kathryn ordered. "Warp five." Within a few seconds, the stars that lay ahead of them became streaks of white, as the ship jumped to warp.
When Dani opened her eyes, she forgot where she was for a moment and then immediately remembered. She was inside one of the jeffries tubes on board Voyager. She instantly realized that she must've fallen asleep, but she had no idea for how long.
"Computer," Dani summoned, "What time is it?"
Before the computer could reply, a violent tremor rocked through Voyager. Dani was thrown around inside the small area a few times before she outstretched her arms and held herself in place. It was a good attempt, but it was in vain, for the shaking became unbearable. The ship tilted, and Dani lost her grip. She slid backwards, headfirst, toward an intersection. Her body turned. She hit the back panel with considerable force and was held there by gravity.
After about two minutes, the shaking ceased, and the pressure being exerted on Dani was lifted. How she survived without passing out was a mystery, but Dani wasn't one to question things like that. She rolled over and gave a silent prayer of thanks. Then she decided that the best course of action would be to let her presence be known. She got up on all fours and started crawling toward the exit. It would mean a serious chiding from her parents, but she had to know what was going on. If Dani had understood correctly, this was only supposed to be a negotiation mission. That's why she'd decided to sneak on. It wasn't supposed to be anything serious.
On the bridge, members of the crew had also felt the turbulence Dani had experienced. It had been so bad that people had been thrown from chairs. Everyone was on the ground.
Kathryn slowly pulled herself to her feet, surveying the damage on the bridge as she stood. Some of the officers were getting up, as well. Some were not. Kathryn helped Chakotay to his feet.
"You alright, Commander?" Kathryn mumbled.
"Never better," Chakotay replied, rubbing his forehead. Kathryn walked over to Tom Paris, who was lying on his back next to his station. He was coming around, but slowly. She reached down and felt to make sure there was a pulse. When she was satisfied there was one, she called his name and shook him lightly. He opened his eyes.
"Wha-what happened?" he managed to say. Kathryn managed to help him to his feet. Chakotay and the few other crew members who had remained conscious after coming through the turbulence were doing the same to other crew members.
"I don't know," Kathryn said, answering Tom's question. "Report!" she ordered to anyone who could respond. Chakotay manned a computer console on a wall and started to read out a list of damaged systems.
"Propulsion's out," he said. "So are navigation, shields, main power on all decks..." He paused as he sifted through the never-ending list. "Just about everything." He looked at Kathryn. "Whatever got us got us good."
"Do we have communications?" Kathryn asked. She waited as Chakotay searched through the list.
"Yes," he finally said.
"Good. Put me through to Starfleet Command." Kathryn waited to be patched through. When it didn't happen, she turned to Chakotay.
"Commander," she said.
"I can't," Chakotay said.
"Why not? I thought you said we had communications."
"We do have communications. We also have sensors, and right now the sensors are giving me some information you might not be too happy to hear."
"Commander, there's a lot I'm not too happy about right now. I'm sure one more thing couldn't hurt."
"I think I'd have to disagree. Sensor readings show that we are no longer in the Alpha quadrant."
"Gamma?" Kathryn asked, already contemplating a run-in with the Jem-Hedar or the Dominion. Chakotay looked at her with an expression she couldn't quite pinpoint, even though they'd been married for nearly 15 years. It was that of fear, shock, surprise, and uncertainty.
"Delta," he said. Kathryn looked back at the view screen. They had been transported to the Delta quadrant? But that was over 70,000 light years away from the Alpha quadrant. That meant that it would take them...
Kathryn's thoughts were interrupted by the voice that came from her comm badge. "Security to Bridge." Kathryn tapped her comm badge.
"Captain here," she said. Tuvok, the ship's chief of security, spoke.
"Captain, there's someone I think you should meet with."
"Lt., can this possibly wait till some other time? Perhaps someone else could see to it right now. I've got so many problems, I don't know where to start."
"Captain, I strongly advise that you see to this matter yourself." Kathryn sighed.
"All right, Lt. Bring whoever it is to my ready room," she said. "Janeway out." She and Chakotay looked at each other as she walked across the bridge to her ready room. He was helping more people to their feet.
Kathryn walked into her ready room and looked around, assessing the damage the room had sustained. Surprisingly, it wasn't too severe. A few things tossed to the floor. She bent down and picked up a few PADDs that had been thrown to the floor. She placed them on her desk. Her comm badge chirped. Chakotay's voice flowed into the room.
"Chakotay to Janeway," he said. Kathryn tapped the device resting on her chest.
"Yes, Commander-what is it?" she asked.
"I'd like to go down to engineering," the commander said. "I can't seem to get any sensor readings from that area."
"Go ahead, Commander."
Kathryn walked over to the counter beside the ready room doors. There was nothing resting on it, as there should have been. Kathryn's eyes wandered from the barren counter to the floor. The contents of the counter were scattered across the floor, in front of the table and the couch. She sighed and looked up from the floor to the mirror hanging over the counter. She was surprised to see that it was still on the wall. She was also surprised by her appearance. She hadn't had a chance to look in the mirror before now and, frankly, her appearance was horrid. Her short auburn hair was scattered about her head, and she had small scratches on her cheek from where she'd scraped herself when she'd fallen. She'd also managed to bang her head in the process, and a nasty bruise was developing on her forehead.
While she was studying her reflection, the door chimed. She combed her fingers through her hair in a futile attempt to tame her wild locks and then turned and walked over to her desk.
"Come," she said. Tuvok entered. There was someone behind him, but Kathryn couldn't see who it was.
"I believe there is someone you'd like to speak with," the Vulcan said.
"Yes, Tuvok, I got that much from you earlier," Kathryn said, trying to peek around Tuvok at the mystery person hiding behind him. "Well, let's have it. Who is this person I so urgently need to speak with?"
Kathryn hadn't known who to expect, but the person who stepped out from behind Tuvok had not been anyone she'd expected to see.
"Dani!" Kathryn exclaimed. Dani looked up at her mother, whose expression reflected a mixture of anger and surprise. Dani wasn't sure if she should say anything. What could she say? She didn't think there was anything she could say that would prevent the verbal lashing she was about to receive.
Kathryn looked away from her daughter. She looked over at Tuvok.
"Thank you, Lt.," Kathryn said. The security officer took this as a dismissal and obediently left the room.
Kathryn looked back down at her daughter. She was seething with anger. She opened her mouth to say something, but brought her hand to her comm badge instead.
"Janeway to Chakotay," she said.
'Oh no,' Dani thought. She'd known that her father would find out when she'd decided to make her presence known, but somehow the thought hadn't seemed so...menacing when she was climbing out of a jeffries tube.
"Report to my ready room right away," Kathryn ordered.
"On my way," Chakotay replied. "Oh, and by the way, we do have auxiliary power, so you can have a cup of coffee. I know you're probably needing one by now."
'You have no idea,' Kathryn thought, looking at her daughter.
"Thank you, Commander," Kathryn said.
Without another word, Kathryn walked over to the replicator. "Computer-coffee! Hot!" she barked. She crossed her arms over her chest and tapped her foot while the smoldering cup of coffee materialized. She picked up beverage and walked over to her desk. Dani began to speak, but Kathryn cut her off by raising her hand. She sat down in her chair and slowly took a sip of the still steaming coffee. Dani imagined that was the state her mother's temper was in right now-steaming.
"Sit," Kathryn said sternly. Dani knew enough to follow her mother's orders. She promptly sat down in one of the chairs in front of Kathryn's desk. The door chimed. A sudden feeling of absolute doom came over Dani.
"Come," Kathryn said, her blue eyes still trained on Dani. When Chakotay walked through the door, Dani wished there was some way she could disappear into the chair she was occupying. Kathryn looked at Chakotay and stood. He put on brakes as soon as he saw Dani sitting in front of Kathryn's desk.
"Dani?" His response to her presence aboard the ship less angry than Kathryn's, but he had been just as surprised. He took a few steps toward his daughter, somewhat bewildered.
Dani hesitantly looked up at her father. "Hi?" she said. It came out as more of a question than a greeting.
Chakotay looked at Kathryn and then back at Dani. For some reason, Dani felt the need to say something.
"Okay. Okay. Before either of you say anything, just let me explain."
"Explain?" Kathryn said. "Yes, I'd say you have a lot of explaining to do. Explain to me how you ended up on this ship. Explain to me why you're not back home, with your aunt. Explain it to me, Dani. Enlighten me."
Dani stood, quite timidly.
"Sit down!" Kathryn ordered. No sooner had the words left Kathryn's mouth than Dani was back in her seat.
"Dani, what are you doing here?" Chakotay asked more calmly than Kathryn had. Dani fidgeted a little and attempted to start her explanation a few times before she actually settled on one beginning.
"Um, it's kind of interesting, actually," Dani began.
Kathryn walked around her desk and behind Dani's chair. She looked at Chakotay. She could se that he wanted Dani to continue.
"Go on," she said to Dani. She continued to pace.
"Well..." Dani started again. She could try to sugarcoat it, but what good would that do? She decided she should just be frank. That was usually best when she was dealing with her parents. She sighed.
"I was bored. I just wanted to have a little fun, so I sneaked onboard right before we left DS9. I mean, it was just going to be negotiations, so I figured that if I stayed out of sight, it wouldn't be that big of a problem."
"Gods, Dani..." Chakotay said. He leaned against the desk. "What were you thinking?"
"I just wanted some excitement, Dad," Dani said. "It's not a big deal."
"Not a big deal?!" Kathryn stopped pacing. Dani turned sideways in her seat so that she could face both Chakotay and Kathryn. She had stopped herself from exploding earlier, but she couldn't contain herself any longer. "Dani do you have any idea where we are?"
"The Badlands?" Dani asked.
"Wrong," Chakotay said. "We're in the Delta quadrant."
"What?!" Dani exclaimed. She almost stood again, but one glance at her mother made her reconsider. "How?"
"We don't know," Kathryn said. "We're not dealing with that right now; we're dealing with you." She walked over to her daughter. "Now, I don't know what possessed you to think you could hide on this ship for an entire voyage, but you were seriously out of your mind. Where were you going to hide?"
"Well, I was in a jeffries tube-"
"A jeffries tube?!" Kathryn and Chakotay exclaimed in unison.
"Yeah," Dani said looking from Chakotay to Kathryn and back to Chakotay again. "I mean, I came out after all that shaking."
"Do you have any idea how dangerous that was?" Kathryn asked. "You could've gotten yourself killed!"
"I didn't think it was going to cause this much trouble. I'm sorry, okay?"
"Yes, I know you are, and you're going to continue to be sorry for a long time after this," Kathryn said. "Do you know how far the Delta quadrant is from home?"
"No," Dani said simply.
"Well, it's a pretty good distance," Kathryn said.
"It's about 70,000 light years," Chakotay said, his anger starting to surface. "Do you know how long it's going to take us to get back to the Alpha quadrant?"
Dani didn't bother to answer this time. She just shook her head, slowly.
"A long time," Kathryn said. "And let me tell you, you're going to be spending a large part of it unhappy because of this little stunt, young lady."