This is a story about an alternate universe. I started it a long time ago, but never finished it, until I found it again last week. It’s about someone who has been gone for a long time and I thought might have a better side than what we usually saw. I don’t want to give too much away and ruin the surprise! Just read and see how you like it. –Myranya.

 

Disclaimer: Star Trek, and Voyager, belong to Paramount. I just play here!

 

 

 

                              ALTERNATE CHOICES

                             

                Chapter 1, here.

               

 

 Chakotay couldn't shake the feeling that something wasn't right. They had hit a spatial anomaly about an hour ago, and it seemed as if some turbulence and some very minor damage was all it had done to the ship. But in all his years in space he had learned to not only trust the readings on the panel in front of him, but also his gut feeling. It had proven right more than once.

"Is there any sign of the anomaly, Mr. Tuvok?" he asked.

"Negative," the Vulcan answered. "It does appear to have been an isolated event."

Chakotay knew the Vulcan would find the 'gut feeling' illogical,  but obviously Tuvok had worked with humans long enough not to comment on the fact that this was the third time in the last ten minutes the First Officer had asked about an anomaly long passed. Or at least, not to comment out loud; Chakotay caught the look the Vulcan gave him after answering his question.

Five minutes later Chakotay stopped himself from asking the same question again. Maybe he was imagining things. Instead, he tried to focus on the crew reports on the small console between the command chairs.

The other chair was empty now. Captain Janeway was off duty, in her quarters, probably, or on the holodeck in one of her holo novels. Chakotay wished she was here. In this otherwise quiet stretch of space the bridge was manned by mainly younger officers, who did not have the experience in space it took to develop that gut feeling, and if they did feel it, they would likely as not be embarrassed to admit it with the Vulcan there. But nothing that had happened so far was serious enough to call the Captain to the bridge.

He turned back to his console, only to be interrupted moments later by Tuvok's report.

"Commander, sensors are picking up a vessel. Identification as of yet unknown. They are travelling in the same direction, but at a somewhat slower speed."

"Range?" Chakotay asked.

"We can just barely pick it up on long-range sensors. I expect to be able to make an identification within the next three minutes," Tuvok answered the next question before Chakotay had a chance to ask it. Maybe after all this time even they were starting to work well together, Chakotay thought.

The minutes passed slowly -more vessels they had encountered had turned out to be hostile than friendly and apparently this vessel was able to travel at almost their speed. Finally, Tuvok spoke up again.

"Commander?"

Chakotay immediately turned around in his seat, giving the Vulcan his full attention. Anything that caused Tuvok to let so much of his surprise sound through in his voice, had to be something big.

"Yes, Tuvok?"

"It is a Federation ship. Intrepid Class. I can not say for certain until we get closer, but I think it is Voyager."

Chakotay stood and turned toward the Vulcan. "Is there any chance this vessel is an image, or reflection, of ourselves?" Way back, at the beginning of their journey, they had run into a time-delayed image of themselves.

"Negative, sir. It is definitely a real vessel, and it is also fully in our space-time continuum." They had also, once, discovered an anomaly had copied them, the other ship being slightly out of phase with themselves. "In fact," the Vulcan continued, "They have just scanned us as well. Scanning frequencies confirm, the ship is definitely Voyager."

Chakotay acknowledged. Then he called the Captain. "Chakotay to Janeway."

"Janeway here. Go ahead, Commander," she replied immediately.

"Captain, I think you better come to the bridge," Chakotay told her.

Moments later Janeway entered the bridge.

"What do you have?" she started to ask, then looked at the viewscreen where Ensign Chell, who manned the Ops station this shift, had just managed to get the first visual on maximum magnification. The image was blurry at this magnification, but there was no doubt the vessel on the screen was Voyager.

"Another projection?" Janeway asked.

"Negative, Captain. It is real, and it is here," Chakotay answered.

"Have they seen us?"

"They have scanned us, but they have not hailed us yet," the First Officer said.

"Well," Janeway said as she sat down. "Then we will. Open a channel, Mr. Chell."

 

 

Chapter 2, there.

               

 

On the other Voyager, Tuvok had the con when the vessel had appeared on long-range sensors. Although the sensors had the same range all around the ship, it was usual to scan further ahead than behind. Still, they were far from flying without 'looking over their shoulder' as Lt. Paris had once put it, so it was not long after the first Voyager had spotted them that they, too, became aware of it.

Tuvok raised an eyebrow as the computer gave him the identification on the other vessel, and ran a swift check to be sure the sensors and the identification program were running correctly. As both diagnostics showed everything was in working order, he called the Captain.

In Sandrine's bar, Janeway had been playing a game of pool with B’Elanna when Tuvok's call came in. It was one of those rare moments when the rest of the bar was empty, except of course from the various holographic regulars, and Sandrine herself.

"Bridge to Janeway."

"Janeway here, go ahead," the Captain responded. Tuvok could hear the sounds of Sandrine's in the  background, but he saw no logical reason to keep this information confidential. Another fifteen minutes and anyone looking out of a viewport could see the other vessel.

"Captain, scanners have picked up another vessel, and it appears to be us."

"Us?" Janeway asked.

"Yes, Captain," Tuvok replied. "The other vessel is Voyager."

"I'll be right there," the Captain said. “Did you call Chakotay?” Tuvok could pick out the various emotions in the Captain's voice, even though he seldom showed any in his own. Puzzlement, curiousity, and as always a briskness that showed she was ready for anything.

“Not yet, I will do so presently,” Tuvok replied, and he did.

Moments later, the turbolift doors opened. Janeway and Chakotay entered the bridge. The viewscreen held an image that was unmistakably Voyager.

"Status, Mr. Tuvok," the Captain said as she sat down in her chair.

"The other Voyager has spotted us and scanned us, but they have not... Correction, Captain. They are hailing us," Tuvok reported.

Janeway exchanged one glance with her First Officer, who gave a small shrug -obviously he had no idea either what or where the other ship might be coming from.

"Open a channel," Janeway told the Vulcan.

 

Chapter 3, together.

                                                                                             

On the first Voyager, Captain Janeway blinked for a moment as she saw herself on the viewscreen. She had spoken to herself, or to a slightly out of phase version of herself, once before, but that one time had not been enough to take away the feeling that whatever it was that caused this to happen was just really... weird.

She hesitated for a moment before launching in the usual greeting. "Captain Katherine Janeway of the Federation Starship Voyager -but then I guess you know that," she added.

The other Janeway obviously had no more experience talking to herself. She took a moment before she nodded and answered, "Correct."

"From your reaction I take it you have no more idea what caused...," Janeway looked from her own bridge back to the viewscreen and the other Voyager, "...this, any more than we do."

Her counterpart shook her head. "Until our scanners picked you up, we had no idea there were two of us."

"Same here," Janeway answered. "Whatever it is, perhaps we can work together and find out."

"A good idea," the second Janeway agreed. "You are welcome on this ship, although I don't know that it makes much difference."

"Agreed," Janeway said. "We will beam over in ten minutes."

She looked around. "Chakotay, Tuvok, you're with me. B'Elanna, have you been monitoring our recent... meeting?"

"Aye, Captain. Carey alerted me as soon as he picked up on the other Voyager," B'Elanna's voice answered.

"Any ideas?" Janeway asked.

"None as of yet, we're working on it,” the Chief Engineer told her.

"Tell Carey to keep on it, and meet me in the transporter room. I'ld like you to come with me to the other ship. Oh, and we should set our combadges to a modified frequence so we know we will be talking to members of our own crew unless we specify differently."

"Aye, Captain," B'Elanna acknowledged.

"Paris to the bridge," Janeway ordered next. She waited for the Lieutenant to arrive, briefed him in a few words, and left him the con. Then she took the turbolift with Tuvok and Chakotay.

 

 

                                                                               -0-

 

Not much later they were on the other Voyager. They entered the conference room, where the full senior staff had already assembled. Janeway noticed Chakotay and B'Elanna looked slightly uneasy at seeing their counterparts. Of course, Tuvok didn't show any outward signs that anything out of the ordinary was happening. Neither of them did.

The four of them sat down at the conference table, and the other Captain took the word. It was her ship, after all.

"We seem to have two ships here, and the best we can come up with is that somehow, we have crossed over into a paralel universe," she said. "Not the alternate universe that Admiral Kirk, and not long before we left the Alpha Quadrant some members of Deep Space Nine, crossed to, but one which split off after we were already in this quadrant."

Captain Janeway nodded, agreeing with her counterpart.

"What we have to find out is when we split, and when one of us crossed over in the other ship's universe," her counterpart continued. "Once we know that, we will likely find a way to each go back to our own universe."

"Can we not stay together and combine our resources?" B'Elanna asked.

Tuvok -Tuvok from her own Voyager- answered. "While it might seem like a good idea to combine our resources and continue home together, that isn't possible. Even if we find we split just hours before we met, the very fact that there are two ships now means there was a split at some point, and staying with both ships and crews in one universe will almost certainly create paradoxes."

The other Tuvok continued as smooth as Janeway had seen twins do. But then, they were closer than twins, they were the same person.

"Apart from that, it would likely be impossible to cross back a long time from now, so we -or you- would be stuck here."

Janeway knew of the parallel universe theory. While each decision made, no matter how small, held the potential for an alternate timeline to be created, only those decisions that would, either immediately or at some much later time, lead to substantial changes in the universe as a whole would cause a split of timelines.

Theoretically, one person picking a flower far enough back in time could change the entire timeline. Theoretically; Starfleet had travelled through time as well as found evidence of other races doing so several times, and found that while some changes had indeed changed their present, many small decisions melted back into the main timeline, unnoticed by most people.

Whatever decision had been made here, and whatever its consequences would be, she thought the split was likely to be recent. The ship looked the same, they were in almost the same location, and looking at the senior staff of both crews, few other changes had occurred.

Then again, a split might occur years before the actual change was to happen. If someone’s child would make an important invention in one universe, the split in the universes might occur on the night the child’s (potential) mother either decides to marry the father, or slap his face and walk out of his life. The universes would run almost identical for many years, but the point the decision that set it all in motion would be the point the alternate timeline was created.

Janeway turned her attention back on to the matter at hand. Her ship had encountered the anomaly a little while back, the other Voyager had not encountered anything out of the ordinary for many days. Had that been where the crossover had taken place? It seemed likely, but was in no way certain. Space was full of anomalies and a slight difference in course and speed could well allow for one ship hitting the turbulence and the other ship missing it by many miles.

The things they needed to find out was when the crossover had occurred, when the split had occurred -it might help them pinpoint the time and cause of crossover- and a way to get back. If it had been them crossing over, she had little experience with alternate timelines and for all they knew the other ship had crossed over in the last anomaly they encountered.

It was quickly decided both B'Elanna's would go to Engineering, searching for records, and tell-tale difference in records, from there. Some of them would reconvene on the bridge, and compare records sent up from the departments of both ships. Various records were easier compiled on specific equipment in the various departments, but the bridge, with its many different consoles, would be the best place to put it all together.

She saw Chakotay agreed with her, and she was not surprised when he offered to go to the science labs and gather those reports which were quicker called up there. 

As that was arranged, she and her counterpart of the other Voyager agreed to break up the meeting in the conference room.

 

Chapter 4, you?!?

               

B'Elanna left with her counterpart to go to Engineering. Janeway and Tuvok joined their counterparts and the rest of the senior crew on the bridge of the second Voyager, and Chakotay proceeded to the science labs.

Chakotay had volunteered to go down to the labs not only because it made sense someone should gather some reports on the specialised lab computers, but also because he wanted to get a better feel of the ship. He still felt uneasy, and had the feeling there was something more, or perhaps something in this other universe specifically pertained to him in some way. The other Chakotay did not seem to share his feelings -at least not that he could discern.

He had called down to the labs from the conference room, explaining what had happened and what he would need. Jenny Delaney had answered him, and told him she would immediately start gathering the reports. He met her at the door.

She looked uneasy as he came in. She knew he was really not from this ship, and normally she would show a guest around, but he came from Voyager and knew the ship as well as she did.

Chakotay noticed and let her lead the way. This wasn't his ship, after all. Or well, it was, in a way, too, but... Aaargh! This was so confusing, how were they going to find out what happened if just thinking about it was so twisted?

He didn't let any of this show to the young Delaney sister. Idly he wondered where her sister was -they never did seem to be very far apart.

Jenny walked over one of the consoles and proceeded to call up all stellar cartography information on the sector of space they had just passed through. Of course, the anomaly they had just encountered would be the place to start. Chakotay looked over the lists of readings and graphics as Jenny walked across the room and called up another sensor log on the panel there.

Just as Chakotay studied a complicated graph showing on the panel in front of him, someone entered and walked up to him. Concentrating on the readings, he took a moment before pausing the screen and turning to  acknowledge the newly arrived Lieutenant. He turned and froze. He was looking at Seska.

“What are you doing here?" he demanded, his voice low and flat.

Seska blinked. "What do you...," she started to say. Then it dawned on her. All color drained from her Bajoran features as she stared at him. Her eyes darted to Jenny Delaney, who fortunately was still bend over her work on the other side of the lab. She had to try twice before she found her voice.

"You know," she managed.

Chakotay took a breath, about to blurt out he knew damn well she was a Cardassian, but he stopped as she reached out to grab his arm, stopped herself and pulled back, all the while shifting her eyes from him to Jenny Delaney, to the door and back. She looked ready to bolt out of there, but her feet were frozen on the spot.

Chakotay considered -she was here, which meant that somehow this Seska, at least, had not betrayed the Voyager in the way the Seska on his ship had done. Still, she was Seska, and a Cardassian.

Seska had taken the hand with which she had reached out, and was now gripping the edge of the console, knuckles white from the strain. She flicked her eyes at Jenny again, then looked up at Chakotay. He had never seen her this uneasy, not even when they had confronted her -her counterpart, he corrected himself- with her true identity on his own ship. Of course, at that time she had had warning that it might be coming.

"Please," she mouthed.

Chakotay turned to look at Jenny. She had been concentrating deeply on her work, not hearing anything. The lab was filled with little bleeps, the soft buzz of machinery at work, and they had been keeping their voices down.

"Jenny?" he asked. He heard Seska hold her breath. "Would you mind getting me a level-three diagnostics kit from Engineering?"

Jenny looked at him in surprise -he could as easily have called someone from Engineering to come and bring one in, let alone that she understood what he would need one for, but she did not question his order.

"Yes, sir," she said and left, perhaps with the slightest hesitation as she went out the door.

As the door closed Seska let go of the breath she had been holding.

"How? How did you know?" she asked, still speaking softly as if afraid to be heard.

"On my Voyager, you -your counterpart- stole a replicator, betrayed Voyager, went over to the Kazon...," he trailed off, not wanting to elaborate any further. Damn it, he had thought he had finally got rid of her for good when she had died, almost a year ago.

"I wouldn't...," she started. "Well, not anymore," she amended. "We talked about it, me and Jonas and... a few others, soon after we got here. We didn't trust the Kazon to be content with a few small pieces of technology. Jonas didn't agree -but he acted on his own when he handed the replicator and almost the whole ship over to the Kazon." Seska spoke quickly, keeping half an eye on the door.

"But you are still an Obsidian Order spy, and from your reaction I take it no one here knows about that," Chakotay told her.

Seska shook her head. "No," she said softly. Then she tossed her head, frustration starting to come up past the shock of being exposed. She had done her hair in a long braid instead of the bun she used to wear when she was still on the Voyager Chakotay knew, and her braid swung as she pushed away from the panel, turned, and walked a few steps through the lab.

"Dammit, I knew it couldn't last forever, but I didn't...," She trailed off and turned to Chakotay again. "Can we talk some place else? I know you won't... But give me a chance to explain." She looked at the door again. "Please?"

Chakotay studied Seska. He didn't trust her -she was the same person at least up until the point where this timeline had split off. But he had already taken a chance when he sent Jenny away; if she wanted to try something she could have done so. He didn't think it would hurt to hear her out. He shrugged.

"Alright."

"The secondary labs will be empty at this time," Seska said, quickly walking over to the door.

In the corridor she slowed down, Chakotay followed her, and they went in.

This lab was smaller and had a small table in the middle with four chairs around it -it was where the science officers held their own briefings and meetings.

They sat down without a word. Chakotay looked at Seska. "Well?"

               

 

Chapter 5, explanations.

 

 

Seska knew Chakotay didn't trust her. She didn't think anything she would say would stop him from telling the Captain about her, but she had to try. She took one more deep breath and started out.

"You know I am a Cardassian, then you know I was assigned to spy on the Maquis. After being pulled to this Quadrant I wasn't sure what to do. Those first weeks I was torn between joining with the Maquis in taking control of Voyager...," She saw Chakotay frowning. "Oh, we talked about it, we talked about it on your Voyager too, right after we came on board, and you know it. That must've been before the split, still.”

Chakotay nodded.

"Then there was the Kazon. Jonas and I were approached by one of the Nistrim when we were collecting supplies. We talked about it, the two of us, and...," She hesitated. "Who else isn't important, this was two years ago and apart from Jonas, we all agreed they couldn't be trusted."

"You didn't stop him?" Chakotay asked.

"He surprised me as much as anyone. The only thing I knew when the Kazon turned up with a replicator was that it was likely one of us who had discussed it -but I didn’t know who. I couldn't even be sure there wasn't someone else who had gotten the idea on his own," Seska said.

She noticed Chakotay looking at her closely.

"Coming on Voyager was also a great opportunity to learn everything about the latest Federation Starship," she continued. "Yeah, there was the treaty, but treaties often end up getting broken, and the Order would have been very interested if we had found a way home then."

"Would have been?" Chakotay asked. "You kept your cover until now."

"I won't ever go back to Cardassia," Seska said.

She saw Chakotay look at her sceptically.

"Well, at first that is what I intended, gather information not just about the Maquis but about Voyager as well. But over time... Well, the way we are stuck here we have to work together more than ever, more even than in the Maquis. The two crews got to working together in a way Cardassian crews never could have," Seska continued. "I made friends here. We are trained not to get emotionally involved, of course -not for real- but nothing they taught me could prepare me for being thrown to the other side of the Galaxy. And...," she trailed off.

Chakotay noticed her hesitation. "You're not telling me everything."

"Well, I also...," she broke off and looked at the table. "You know how back in the Alpha Quadrant..."

 

She had relaxed when they had sat down at the table and she'd started to tell her story, but now she was as nervous as she had been in the main lab.

Slowly, Chakotay began to realise what she couldn't say.

"You are in love. With... my counterpart."

Seska nodded. "Yes. We are... quite close."

Chakotay didn't know whether he was feeling stunned, angry, or disgusted. Strictly speaking, she hadn't been lying to him, or well, she had, but that was a long time ago.

"You never would have told," he snapped.

She shook her head in frustration. "Look, what was I supposed to do? Just say 'hi, I've been lying to you all this time and I am really a Cardie spy'? Dammit, we are 70,000 lightyears from home, and I was just plain damn scared. Scared of what would happen, afraid to loose...," she had been yelling, but suddenly she broke off again.

Chakotay studied her. He was still angry, but he was starting to believe she was telling the truth. She had never been a very good actor, not the Seska he had known.

"How long did you think you could keep this up?" he asked.

"I don't know.. I had hoped... I knew it couldn't last forever. If I ever got hurt the Doctor would be on to me right away. But I had thought... I definitely hadn't expected this. I know I can't ask you not to tell."

Chakotay looked at her. "I will not."

Seska blinked.

"You will," he added. "If you want to have any chance to be trusted again on this ship, it will have to come from you."

He got up and walked out of the lab, leaving her behind. He knew he was taking a risk, but he had seen some things in Seska he had liked, long ago in the Alpha Quadrant. Since then, he had often thought all of it had been a lie, but she had come after him. Not just after Voyager, but after him. And on this ship she had not sold out to the Kazon, had apparently even made it to Lieutenant. He would not leave this ship without making sure his counterpart and the Captain knew who Seska was, but he could afford to give her a chance to be the one to tell.

 

 

Chapter 6, a confession.

 

 

Chakotay had left the lab, leaving Seska to stare at the door for a few long moments. Then she got up and went to look for Chakotay.

She hadn't known what to do; call Chakotay on the comlink while he was likely to be with some of the officers from the other ship, or go find him and risk running into them, too. In the end she knew she had to face him. She would take the risk and go look for him.

She was lucky -he had just left the bridge on his way to Engineering, and she caught up with him just as he left the turbolift.

"Chakotay?" she called.

Chakotay looked around and smiled at her. "Seska."

As she made no move to follow him into Engineering he turned and stopped.

"Is something wrong?" he asked.

Seska took a deep breath. "We have to talk."

 

 

Chakotay was puzzled for a moment. "Now?" he asked. But at the same time he noticed how tense she was, and it was not like her to come up with silly and frivolous things, especially not during a crisis. On a night out at Sandrine's or the holodeck was something else entirely. But whatever was the matter this time, it had to be serious.

“Okay," he said, and walked over to her.

Seska quickly led the way to one of the observation ports on the deck. She sat down and motioned for Chakotay to do the same.

Chakotay looked concerned. He had no idea what was wrong, but he did not say anything, giving her time to speak.

Seska looked at him and gathered herself. "Chakotay, I... I am not who you think I am."

"What do you mean?" Chakotay asked.

Seska made herself look at him as she answered. "Loriya Ruvek, undercover agent in the Obsidian Order."

Chakotay stared at her in stunned disbelief.

"I'm a Cardassian, Chakotay."

Chakotay slowly shook his head. "You can’t be."

"Believe it," Seska said softly.

Slowly, Chakotay realised she was telling the truth. "Why are you telling me?" he asked.

"The other Voyager -the other Chakotay... They know," she took a deep breath. "I didn't know how to tell you, I am sorry."

Chakotay felt anger boil up inside him. “So you told me. If they had not come, would you have told me or would you have kept your secret until we were back in the Alpha Quadrant, when you could go home, taking all your carefully collected intelligence with you?” he asked coldly.

“No! I wouldn’t have gone back!” Seska replied forcefully. Then she faltered, and continued more softly. “That is what I planned at first, to remain undercover and return. But I decided a long time ago I could not do that anymore.”

She shook her head slowly and swallowed before continuing. “I don’t know if I would have told you. I was afraid, of losing the friends I made, and afraid of losing you. But I can not go back to Cardassia and the Order, whatever happens.”

Chakotay studied her, unknowingly much like his counterpart had done earlier. He wanted to believe her, he wanted to believe her with all his heart. But he was also First Officer of Voyager, and responsible for the safety of the ship. Here in the Delta Quadrant, and after they returned home.

“You lied to me all this time, why should I believe you now?” he asked flatly.

Seska sighed. Chakotay watched her as she looked down at the small table and her hands, with which she fiddled. Was she acting or not?

“I could tell you that even in the Alpha Quadrant you caught my interest, but I don’t know how to make you believe that. And I would still have gone back to the Order, turned you and the rest of the Maquis over to them, I can’t deny that. But here… I will try to explain,” she said as she finally spoke again.

“Undercover work is always a lonely job, we are prepared for that. We pretend to make friends, we even pretend to be more than that, but in the end we know what we do may get our assumed friends captured or even killed. And Order is always there. I make my reports, sent them to my superior, and they would call me on it if there was ever any doubt about my loyalty. Last of all, Cardassia is also right there. Even if it may be years before we can socialise with other Cardassians again, I always knew the mission would end and I could go back home, be myself again among those few friends and family members that I still had after joining the Order.”

She paused, but Chakotay just looked at her, waiting for her to continue.

“Then we came here,” she went on. “And nothing, nothing in my training or my own past could have prepared me for that. At first I saw it as a great opportunity, just like you said. Instead of only collecting intelligence about the Maquis, I could learn about the latest Federation Starship as well. But when a number of ways to return home had failed, I realised I was stuck here as much as anyone. And there was no more Order looking over my shoulder, no more Cardassia to return to. The Maquis and the Federation crews learned to work together, even if there were a few glitches at first, and I found I was no longer pretending but was making friends for real.”

“When did you come to that conclusion?” Chakotay asked.

Again, Seska shook her head. “It wasn’t like that. I didn’t wake up one morning and decided I was not going back to Cardassia. It just happened. I would be coming off duty and I would realise I had completely forgotten to make a coded copy of some specs I had seen during my shift. I would be sitting at Sandrine’s with B’Elanna and I would find I was more interested in hearing the funny story about Neelix’s last brew than in listening to any technical talk. I think it was about seven, eight months ago when I finally sat down and deleted all my coded files and log entries, but I had not added any new ones for some time before that. The only thing I never forgot was to alter the Doc’s files so I was never asked to report for any routine check-ups.”

“Can those files be recovered?” Chakotay asked next.

“No,” Seska replied. “I would be extremely surprised if even Harry and Tuvok could recover any of the content, I made sure of that. They may still be able to find there was a large number of files deleted, but that is all.”

“Convenient,” Chakotay remarked. “If you really wanted to prove your innocence, at some point or time, would you not have kept the files? So you could prove you did not add any later on?”

“I had thought of that. But with them, Harry and Tuvok could have learned the full code I used. And some files, especially the earlier ones, included other things I did not want the Federation or the Maquis to know. You did not tell Captain Janeway every detail about the Maquis bases and operations.”

“I didn’t have to, thanks to Tuvok,” Chakotay pointed out, irritated. Even now, he still didn’t like to think of that.

“You know things he didn’t. Did you tell those to the Captain?” Seska shot back.

“No,” Chakotay had to admit.

“Well then,” Seska said. “Look, Cardassia is still my home planet. I may not want to go back but I can’t give the Order’s secrets away, please don’t ask that of me.”

Chakotay was silent for a long time. Her explanation did make sense. He was extremely glad Captain Janeway had never asked him to divulge any more information about the Maquis, for if she had, he would have found himself in a difficult position. Would Seska, trained as a spy as she had just admitted, truly have the same qualms about giving intelligence or betraying her own? He wasn’t sure. He also considered the rest of her confessions. Looking back, he thought he could see small changes in her behaviour. She had become more relaxed, and a lot closer to him as well as, he thought, her friends, over the past year or so. Not that that was definite proof, many of the crew had taken a long time to adjust to their life in the Delta Quadrant. But it was something. He made up his mind.

“I believe you,” he said.

“Thank you,” Seska breathed. She reached out as if to hug him, then pulled back and put her hand on his arm instead.

“We will have to inform the Captain,” Chakotay said. Then he realised something he had almost missed. “And the rest of the staff. If you are here and you are not on the other Voyager, then the universes may have split because of something you did or didn’t do.”

 

 

Chapter 7, more confessions and how a small scan can make a big difference.

 

Seska started. She, too, had almost forgotten about the reason she had been exposed. It was bad enough she would have to repeat her explanations to Captain Janeway, to B’Elanna, and to all the others. She really, really did not want to learn in more detail what her counterpart had done to betray Voyager –what she had done, in a way. But Chakotay was right. It might be the key to their current predicament.

She bit her lip as she nodded.

They got up and she followed Chakotay to the bridge. She tried to think of what she had done recently that could have caused one of the ships to slip to the other universe. She had been on duty at a science station, that is why she had been sent over to assist the other Chakotay in the lab in the first place. Before she knew what he would know about her. No! Her thoughts drifted off again, what had she been doing? Perhaps if she remembered, they could figure out how they had slipped over and how they could return without learning everything about her own counterpart. She had ran off most of the standard scans they always did when entering an anomaly, and… She shook her head as the turbolift stopped at the bridge.

Of course, the other Captain was there too. Seska tried to stay behind Chakotay, but Janeway’s counterpart spotted her at once.

“Seska?!” she said, shock in her voice. The other Tuvok and Kim whirled around at her voice, and Seska gave up trying to hang back.

“Captain,” she said, to her own Captain, trying her best to make her voice sound steady. “Can we see you in your readyroom please. Just you?”

“Of course,” Captain Janeway said, looking puzzled.

“Captain, she is,” Tuvok, or better Tuvok’s counterpart, started to say, but Chakotay’s counterpart held up his hand, and he stopped.

Seska breathed a sigh of relief. She had to restrain herself not to run into the readyroom. When the door closed behind them, she was shaking.

Captain Janeway sat down and offered Seska and Chakotay a seat as well.

“What is this all about?” Captain Janeway asked, once they were seated.

Taking a deep breath, Seska started her confession all over again. Eventually, she looked up at the Captain, waiting for what she would say.

Captain Janeway did not speak immediately. She looked at Seska, then eventually addressed not her but Chakotay.

“Do you believe her?” she asked.

“Yes,” Chakotay replied. “But you know I may not be completely impartial in my judgement.”

“I am aware of that,” Captain Janeway said. “But I still think your opinion is valuable.”

Finally, she turned to Seska. “I must confirm those things I can –I will have Tuvok and Kim check the computer logs, and you will report to sickbay and have the Doctor perform any tests he deems appropriate- but provided those things check out, I am willing to believe you.”

“Thank you, Captain,” Seska replied. She had held her breath when the Captain had been silent for so long, then addressed Chakotay, but now she could breathe again.

“I assume you realise this also means you may be the reason our universes have split,” Captain Janeway remarked.

“Yes, Captain,” Seska replied. “Chakotay thought of that. I tried to think of what I did earlier today, but, well, it did not take us long to get here and I was… I could not concentrate.”

“You will have to try regardless. Go over everything you did, especially while we were in or near the anomaly, and compare notes with the other Voyager,” Captain Janeway ordered.

“Yes, Captain,” Seska acknowledged. Then she realised that meant she would have to work with the other Voyager’s crew, and she hesitated.

Chakotay caught on. “Work with my counterpart,” he suggested, and Captain Janeway nodded her consent.

Seska acknowledged, relieved.

 

 

 

She received a lot of stares as she came out of the Readyroom, but no one said anything. Chakotay followed her. He beckoned Chakotay from the other Voyager, who joined her in the turbolift. Her own Chakotay remained on the bridge.

“So you did tell,” the other Chakotay said when the doors closed.

“Yes,” Seska nodded. “Thank you for giving me that opportunity.”

Chakotay merely nodded.

“Did the others tell anyone, just now on the bridge?” Seska asked.

Chakotay shook his head, and Seska sighed. Of course, they would learn soon enough, but the worse was over.

They arrived at the science labs once again. Jenny Delaney was still there.

“There you are, Sir, I did not know where you had gone,” she said.

“It doesn’t matter, Jenny,” Chakotay said.

Jenny looked bewildered, then nodded when she saw no one was going to explain.

Seska went to the science console, while Chakotay set up a relay to his own ship.

Bit by bit, Seska reconstructed the scans she had done. She had started with the regulars: visual scan, infra-red, tachyon, chronitron, magnetic, normal space and subspace, on several frequencies. Chakotay quickly confirmed that his Voyager had done the same.

They had still been inside the anomaly when she was done with the standard array. She remembered now, she had run a series of biomedical scans through the main reflector dish. Quickly she called up the logs and showed them to Chakotay, who relayed them to his ship.

It seemed that the other Voyager had also met a living nebula, for they too had used a series of biomedical scans. But just as Seska tried to think, and failed, of any other scans she had used, Chakotay spoke up.

“I think we got something,” he said.

“Where?” Seska asked. She walked over to his console, then suddenly stopped, keeping her distance as she realised he might not appreciate her stepping in too close.

Chakotay pointed. “That neural scan right there, you used a different frequency than our Voyager did.”

Seska frowned. It was only a small discrepancy, but it was the only one she could see. And it was true that inside an anomaly, small things could set off a larger reaction.

“That could be it,” she said.

 

 

Chapter 8, problem solved?

 

Of course, both Voyagers had stopped when they met. Going slow, with all scanners now running on full, it took them about two hours to return to the anomaly. During that time, Seska reported to Sickbay on Captain Janeway’s orders. The Doctor was surprised to see her, and understandably annoyed when he learned she had avoided his check-ups  for as long as she had been aboard. But to her great relief, he was more interested in her blood samples than in questioning her loyalties. He would have to restore her Cardassian physique at some point in time, being altered for too long could cause complications and she had been a Bajoran five years already, but there was no time for that now and the Doctor did not insist it should be done immediately. Nor did he try to keep her in Sickbay when Chakotay –her Chakotay, she knew- called her they had arrived at the anomaly and called her to the bridge.

She stepped out of the turbolift and looked around. Relieved, she saw the officers from the other Voyager had returned to their own vessel. She walked towards the science station. She saw Kim and Tuvok glance at her, and she knew Captain Janeway had told them. Likely, they had already started to look for traces of her files. But no one stopped her.

“As far as we can determine, we are in the same position as we were when Seska performed the neural scan, Captain,” Tuvok announced after a brief while.

“Run the same scan again, Lieutenant,’ Captain Janeway told Seska.

“Yes, Captain,” she replied, and she tapped in the necessary commands.

“I’m picking up some kind of fluctuation in the anomaly,” Harry called from his station at Ops. “I think we can get through.”

“Very good,” Captain Janeway replied. “Paris, one quarter impulse, take it slow. Tuvok, hail the other Voyager.”

“Aye, Captain,” Tom acknowledged.

“Channel open,” Tuvok replied, and the familiar bridge appeared on the viewscreen.

“Captain, I think we have it. If so… then this is goodbye. Good luck on your journey,” Captain Janeway said.

“The same to you,” her counterpart replied.

“Janeway out,” the Captain said with a nod, and the starfield with the strange anomaly appeared again. Seska watched with the rest of the crew as they slowly moved forward. Suddenly, though there was no discernible change in the ships flight, the other Voyager was gone from the viewscreen and the sensors.

“It appears we have crossed over,” Tuvok announced.

“Resume our course,” Captain Janeway replied. “Paris, you have the con.”

She got up from her chair. “Seska, Chakotay, Tuvok, in my Readyroom if you would.”

Seska quickly left her station and followed the Captain. She did not feel quite as apprehensive anymore, but she was still nervous under the Vulcan’s cool scrutiny and her Captain’s stare.

“Tuvok has confirmed a large number of files was deleted from your personal console,”  Captain Janeway said. “Your story seems to check out. Now the other crew has told me some of the things your counterpart did.”

The Captain paused, and Seska held her breath, again.

“It was not pleasant. But I will not condemn you for what you did not do, no matter how close you might have come. You keep your rank and your station and I expect you to carry out your duties as before,” the Captain continued.

“Thank you, Captain,” Seska said sincerely. She felt immensely relieved. She did not kid herself into thinking the Captain and Tuvok –and Chakotay, too- would not be keeping an eye on her, but this was better than she had dared hope for. She vowed the Captain would not regret her decision.

“There is one matter of practical nature,” Captain Janeway continued. “What do you want us to call you? Do you want to go on as Seska, or would you rather we used your real name?”

Seska blinked. She had run over a dozen scenarios in her head, thinking of what would happen if she told, or if they found out, but she never considered this. “Seska, I think,” she said. “That is who I have been, here.”

“Good,” Captain Janeway replied. “Report to the Doctor first thing tomorrow morning, and you will resume your duties when he clears you. Dismissed.”

 

 

Epilogue.

 

Seska sat in the mess hall staring out the porthole. She could see her recently restored Cardassian features reflected in the window pane. It still looked strange to see her own face again after so long.

She wondered about the other Seska. Had she really been that close to betraying Voyager, betraying Chakotay? One alternate choice, okay, one very bad alternate choice, and it had all gone downhill from there. Once the replicator deal had gone wrong, would she have been able to stay on the ship instead of beaming to the Kazon? She certainly would not have been able to gain Chakotay's trust again -or anyone else's, for that matter- if she had been found out at that time. It was going to take a long time even now, no matter what Captain Janeway had said.

She heard the door open. She did not turn when she saw B'Elanna walk up to her table in the reflection of the glass. As B'Elanna came to her table and looked down at her, she turned and looked up.

After a while B'Elanna spoke. "So that is what you really look like."

"I'm sorry, B'Elanna," Seska said. "I lied to you -to everyone."

“I can’t say nothing has changed,” B’Elanna replied. “But… you did not betray us.”

She paused, and Seska, not knowing what to say, remained silent.

“We’re playing a game of pool against the guys from Security in a few minutes, do you want to come?” B’Elanna asked.

For a moment, Seska looked at her, startled, trying to see if B’Elanna was serious. The half-klingon woman met her gaze without speaking, but neither did she look away. Breaking into a smile, Seska got up.

“You bet,” she said, and followed B’Elanna out of the mess hall.

 

grey line

Main | About me | 3Scapes mud | WoT Smileys | Pictures & drawings | Charity, SETI, etc | Going barefoot | Flying with cats | Stories | Wheel of Time | Links! | 'best viewed' | contact