In Orbit of Planet Erehwon
Stardate 57505.83 (February 18, 2381)
Kathryn Janeway broke free from her reverie and cleared her throat. “Tuvok. Yes. Come in, please.”
Her Vulcan first officer entered the ready room. “Captain. It is 0900 hours. The crew is assembled in the Recreation Deck, as per your orders.”
Janeway nodded slowly. “Right.” She got up and stretched, taking a moment to look out at the bright blue planet below. Wispy clouds floated across a large stretch of ocean.
“I haven’t been looking forward to this moment, Tuvok.”
Tuvok straightened, hands clasped behind his back. “It would be illogical for you to positively anticipate such an event, Captain. “
Janeway smiled. “That’s true.” She turned to face the Vulcan, a decade’s worth of worry and concern bearing down on her soul. “But this is the speech I’ve always dreaded having to make, Tuvok. To tell this crew, this family, that their journey must end here…it breaks my heart.”
“Considering the changes that have occurred in the Alpha Quadrant during our absence, your decision is in fact most rational, Captain.”
Janeway placed her hand on the window, gazing out at the planet below. “I never had any doubt that this ship would make it home. No matter what the universe dished out at us, we survived…and kept going. The Kazon, the Borg, Species 8472, the Korroalis...” Janeway trailed off.
Tuvok keenly felt the emotional loss that the Dominion victory over the Federation represented for both his people and the crew of the Voyager
as a whole. He had read the Vulcan Instrument of Surrender to the Dominion, and it was only logical to assume that his family had either been killed or sent to a labor camp. Tuvok deeply felt their loss. He could feel the ancient Vulcan rage burning within him, suppressed only through the strong discipline of logic. Outwardly, of course, he exhibited none of this. Of course.
“Nevertheless, Captain,” said Tuvok, “the crew of this vessel have always trusted your judgment. Despite what has happened in the Alpha Quadrant, that one simple fact has not changed.”
Janeway closed her eyes and allowed her mind to drift homewards, if only for a second. “And you sincerely believe I am not betraying that trust?”
Tuvok raised an eyebrow. “My feelings are irrelevant, Captain. Based upon all available evidence, to believe such a thing would be quite illogical.”
Janeway smiled in spite of herself. No matter what happened, she knew she could always rely on Tuvok. He was her rock, her calm in the midst of this terrible storm…a storm that showed no sign of abating.
“Come on, old friend,” Janeway said quietly, approaching the waiting Vulcan. “Let’s go talk to them.”
’s recreation deck, all of the ship’s personnel milled around in small groups. Some nervously made small talk while awaiting Janeway’s arrival; others simply waited quietly, waiting for confirmation of the inevitable. Finally, at 09:15 hours, the bosuns whistle sounded and the crew’s attention turned to the dais that had been set up on the deck.
Behind the dais, a turbolift door opened and Janeway and Tuvok appeared. The two mounted the dais and Commander Tuvok stepped to the podium, ahead of the captain.
“Captain on deck,” he called out sternly.
The crew—Starfleet and civilian alike—snapped to attention.
Tuvok briskly walked down the steps and joined the crew at attention.
Janeway gripped the sides of the podium.
“At ease,” she said.
All eyes were on Janeway as she contemplated saying the words that would most certainly change all of their lives forever. This was the moment.
“Good morning.” Janeway made eye contact with Tuvok, who nodded almost imperceptibly. She continued:
“On Stardate 57385, Voyager
unexpectedly made contact with the U.S.S. Defiant
while en route to the Alpha Quadrant. While it was a great relief to finally get back in touch with Starfleet, the circumstances that made our meeting possible were not the happy ones we had all dreamed about since our arrival in the Delta Quadrant.”
Janeway loosened her grip on the podium. “Two years after we were flung across the galaxy by the Caretaker Array, the Dominion invaded the Federation and our allies in the Klingon Empire. Aided by an alliance of Alpha Quadrant powers hostile to the Federation, the Dominion successfully prosecuted their war of aggression. Within five short years, the Klingon Empire had been all but annihilated… and the Federation had been dissolved.”
“Tragically,” Janeway continued, “the destination this ship and this crew have been striving towards for the last ten years is now an occupied world. Earth is in enemy hands. Our friends…our families…they are all now under the yoke of the Dominion.”
The assemblage stood in silent agony. Janeway took a deep breath and continued.
“If it had not been for our fortuitous encounter with the Defiant,
this ship and crew would have continued on to Earth…only to wind up in the hands of a brutal and ruthless enemy…or worse.”
"Together, this crew has spent ten years trying to escape the Delta Quadrant. Now, as fate would have it, we find our exiled compatriots seeking refuge here. They have welcomed us with open arms. And much like us, they were forced to undertake a voyage to the unknown against their will. Is it simply coincidence that here, deep in unexplored space, we have come together?”
Janeway shook her head. “I refuse to believe it is. Ladies and gentlemen, I have always feared there would come a day when I would have to give the order to abandon our course for home. Nothing is or has ever been more important to me than making sure each and every one of you once again see the skies of your home world.”
Janeway confidently faced her crew. “But if Erehwon is to be where the place where we make a stand against tyranny, then we belong here. For now, this is our home. We know this quadrant. We have made many friends, and many enemies here. I firmly believe that the men, women, and children on this vessel can contribute to the war effort. We must help the fleet here at Erehwon recover its strength and grow. We must forge alliances. We must rebuild so that one day, we can take back what’s ours.”
The crowd was beginning to shake off the despair. People were roused. “I want you all to remember one very important thing. Voyager’s
mission to return to the Alpha Quadrant is far from over.” Janeway smiled confidently. “Someday, this ship will return to Earth. That, my friends, is my solemn promise to you.”
The crowd erupted in cheers. Janeway smiled, and honestly could not tell if the lump in her throat was pride in her crew or a deep, abiding sadness.
Admiral William Ross, in his office planetside, watched on his viewer as the Voyager
crew applauded their captain. Turning the display off, he turned to the man sitting across from him in Ross’s private quarters.
“What do you think, Sloan?”
The human male shrugged noncommittally. “We knew this day was coming, Admiral. As expected, Janeway is doing exactly what we need her to do.”
Ross frowned. The admiral was slightly anxious with how fast things were moving along. “You’re sure we’re ready for this?”
Sloan smiled, but as always the gesture seemed somewhat insincere. “Admiral Ross,” the man replied, “I have never been so sure of anything in my life.”