Gardens, Ocampan Colony
Ocampa V, Delta Quadrant
The gardens that Daggin had once taken such pride in had long since died. Despite the food and medicine the colonists had gotten from the fruits, vegetables, herbs and trees they had grown, the energy needed to provide the light for them to grow was considerable. The gardens had keep kept for almost two and a half years, before it was decided that they couldn’t justify the energy expenditure—after all the gardens could only feed a small percentage of the population and they didn’t have the resources to expand them. It had broken his heart to switch off the power to the colony, as it meant leaving behind the life he had chosen for himself, the once he loved, with people who wanted to think for themselves instead of blindly following the Caretaker dogma.
The containers that had once held a wide array of planets had nothing other than blackened soil in them, whilst the trees that had once stood proud and tall were withered and feeble, their bark grey and cracked. He ran his hands of the rough trunks and took a deep breath. Gone was the sweet smell of fruit bushes flowering, the mouth-watering scent of freshly picked vegetables being cooked with the spices and herbs that had grown wide in the gardens.
He had once been a man of simple pleasure, working with his hands, singing and laughing with his friends as their toiled—out of love for what they had created than any sense of duty. Over the last six years he had gone from a farmer to a politician, trying to lead his people through the greatest adversity most could have imagined. Whenever he found himself overburdened he would return to the place he had been happiest, sit in the dim light and remember all that had been and all that he had lost. Kes would always be near the top of that list.
He still couldn’t quite fathom that the woman he had seen three days ago had been her. They were the same age, but she looked as though she was over nine. It wasn’t her age that shocked him the most, it was her way. Kes had been the best of them; kind and compassionate to a fault, but with a strength and passion that came from deep within. The woman he had seen on the Great Plaza was cold and distant, within whom he could only sense anger and bitterness. What had happened to change her so dramatically?
Only she would know the answer and he had no clue what had happened to her, where she was, or even if she was still alive.
With a heavy sigh, he tried to push aside his thoughts of Kes. He would only have a short time to calm his weary mind before he would be called upon again to help defuse some new problem—though thanks to Tanis it wouldn’t be power-related. He closed his eyes and breathed in deep, filling his lungs with the small of mulch and soil, as he tried to relax each muscle.
Daggin had only been at it for a short time when he felt a pulse of heat. It lasted barely a second and it was only after it passed that he noticed just how cool the gardens were.
a frail yet familiar voice sounded in his head.
He opened his eyes and found Kes standing before him. It took him a moment to realise who she was as she looked older than she had before. Her hair had lost any hint of grey, now pure white, her skin was paler and more wrinkled, her posture hunched and her frame fragile, but it was her. As he opened his mind once again, he could sense that the darkness that had shrouded her had lifted somehow—she was by no means the bright and joyous girl she had been, but the void he’d sensed within her before wasn’t the same. From somewhere deep within the withered woman he had once known he could sense hope.
“Kes,” he said breathlessly, slowly standing.
A faint smile tugged at her cracked lips but didn’t reach her eyes. “I see you’re still flouting tradition.” On a world of telepaths it was rare to speak aloud, to the point where those who chose to do so were looked down upon. In the colony they had all chosen to use verbal communication above telepathic, reserving it for only the most intimate of relationships.
“I may not live in the colony anymore, but I am who I am.”
“Yes you are.”
“Kes,” he began then paused. There was so much he wanted to ask, so much he wanted to know that he didn’t know where to begin. His eyes traced her wrinkled features, which made her look even more fragile than when her skin had been taut and cheeks rosy. He stepped forward, reached out and cupped her left cheek. Part of him had expected to feel it cold and rough like the tree bark, but she was as warm as he was and her skin was soft. “What’s happening to you?” His voice was so soft that it didn’t echo around the still garden.
She pulled her head away from his hand, faster than he thought she was able to move, and turned her back on him. For a moment he was afraid she would vanish again, but after a beat she glanced over her shoulder at him. For the briefest of moments he though he saw something of the old Kes he knew in her eyes.
“I’m...I’m not who I was, Daggin. During my time onboard Voyager
we encountered an alien species and after I touched their minds, my abilities grew and grew. They haven’t stopped developing since that day, and every time I push myself to my limits it takes a toll on my body. I...I just never realised how much until I was back here.”
’s crew help you?”
She shook her head. “When I started to change I left the ship in order to protect them. But I was alone for so long, being bombarded with thoughts, feelings and sensations from so many minds that I got lost. I forgot who I was and began to focus on all I had lost. It...changed me, Daggin, corrupted my spirit.”
“You seem a little more like yourself now,” he told her, a lopsided smile tugging at his lips.
She looked up at the rocky ceiling thirty meters above them, but she seemed to be looking right through it. “For the first time in too long, I have done something selfless...” A very faint smile touched her bright blue eyes.
“What was it?”
Tanis’ voice called out telepathically, an edge to it that made Daggin nervous.
*What is it?*
*A Kazon fleet has entered the system and on a direct course for the City Station.*
“By the gods,” he gasped, the blood draining from his face.
*Daggin, get the people to the emergency shelters,*
Kes instructed as she turned back to face him. *Tanis, I will be onboard momentarily.*
*Kes? When did you return?*
*Not now, Tanis.*
She looked at Daggin square in the eyes. “Keep them safe.”
“Kes,” he called to her, “be careful.”
“I will be back, Daggin.”
With that there was a brief flash of light and he found himself once again alone in the gardens. He looked up at the manmade ceiling, wishing that he could do something more, but his place was in the city looking after his people. He would have to leave their defence up to Tanis and Kes, and hope that they would see them all through.
As he jogged back towards the city, he opened his mind as far as he could and calmly began telling all those he could to get to the shelters. They in turn would open their minds up as well and so forth until every man, woman and child in the city knew what was required of them.
Great Plaza, Ocampa City
Ocampa V, Delta Quadrant
*There is an emergency, we have to get to the shelters!*
was all Linnis heard. Dozens of voices, one on top of another, called out to all those who could sense them. She could sense their fear to varying degrees; the elderly, who had grown up under the influence of the Caretaker, were the worst, whilst the younger generation were coping slightly better. Linnis was more anxious than fearful, all she heard was the same message. No one knew any more than that and she didn’t like not knowing.
Dutifully, she passed on the instructions and began heading for the nearest emergency shelter. The shelters were reinforced bunkers dotted all across the city, intended for the Ocampa to use during earthquakes or other such incidents. They weren’t used often, definitely not in her lifetime—though the people had taken shelter on the day the Caretaker left them, when the ground shook.
How do I know that?
she asked herself.
There was no time to dwell on it. There was a tidal wave of bodies heading for the shelters and she was caught up in it. The collective sense of fear was almost overwhelming, but even as the emotion swept them away, the people remained quiet. There were a few tears but no sobs, no angry or frightened shouts, no nervous chattering, just the sound of dozens of footfalls on the metal and stone floors.
The silence and orderly chaos were too much for her. The obedience and unquestioning acceptance as much an element of her people as the points on their ears. Linnis forced herself to stop in the middle of the crowd and was immediately jostled from all sides as bodies tried to force her to comply. Pushing back against the tide, she slowly moved away from where they were heading, drawing puzzled looks and more forceful mental calls from others about the need to seek shelter.
She ignored them and pressed forward, her lithe frame allowing her to slip through whatever gaps presented themselves, or shoving her way between the people when she had no other option. In her mind she could hear their calls to her and one another, perplexed and worried about what she was doing, but the communal sense of fear kept them from doing anything but follow.
It took her several long minutes to reach the edge of the crowd and break free from them. Away from the torrid of people, she was finally able to catch her breath. Standing to the side, gripping a balcony railing for support, she watched them go. Few looked at or even noticed her, which suited Linnis just fine. She didn’t know what she was going to do or where she would go, but she knew that she couldn’t just follow anymore, not without knowing why.
The crowd grew thinner as the shelters were filled and the people took other routes to get to safety. She watched as the numbers dwindled before she was left alone on the plaza. Without the thundering footsteps all she could hear was her own breathing, whilst the voices in her mind had grown quiet, chattering among themselves and never realising she was still out in the open. As much as she wanted to go out and try to find answers, she found herself clinging to the railing, suddenly unsure of where to go to get what she wanted or even what she should be asking.
“What are you doing out here?”
The singular voice echoed around the Great Plaza, before drifting off into the cavern the city was nestled in. It took her a moment to realise that someone had actual spoken the words and not projected them. She looked around and saw a tall dark-haired man running towards her, his expression stern.
I know him
, she realised as he got nearer but couldn’t put a name to the face.
He was looking all around, his eyes moving across windows and doorways, trying to see if there was anyone else left behind, so he paid little attention as he ran in her direction. He slowed to a trot as he finished inspecting all the houses and businesses, then focused on her, and stopped.
“I’m sorry,” she began. “I wanted to find out what was going on, if there was something more I could do than just hide in a bunker.”
She wasn’t even sure if he’d heard her, his eyes were tracing the smooth curve of her jaw, slight cheekbones, button nose, and large blue eyes. As he stared at her she found that his scrutiny didn’t unsettle her, but instead found something familiar in the handsome man—something she couldn’t quite put her finger on.
After a long moment he shook his head and his softening expression faded, becoming all business once again. “You shouldn’t be out here, it may not be safe.”
“How?” she asked defiantly.
He paused again, a faint smirk tugged at the corner of his lips as he looked into her eyes once again. From his expression she wasn’t the only one that was similarities in a stranger.
“We have Kazon heading towards us, a lot of them.”
She glanced up at the cavern ceiling, but pictured the station sitting in orbit and not the dark rock overhead. “The other Ocampa, will they be alright?”
“I don’t know, but they’re not alone up there,” he told her, glancing surfaceward as well. “An old friend is with them.” He lowered his glance to look at her once again.
“Why have us take shelter then?”
“Because the Kazon are savage and brutal, and they won’t have liked being forced off the surface. They’ll be out for blood and may do anything to get it.” He placed his warm hand on her shoulder. “Please, you have to take cover.”
“Aren’t you going to?” she asked, finding his touch strangely comforting.
“I have to make sure the people are safe.”
“You could use some help then.”
He paused for a moment then nodded. “Let’s get going.”