Tunnel Entrance, Mining Camp
Ocampa V, Delta Quadrant
59th Day of Zei (August 11th, 2377)
The azure blue sky brought tears to her eyes.
She had seen images and tried to imagine it, but nothing compared to actually seeing it. Linnis could do nothing but look upward and marvel. On her skin she could feel the warmth of the sun, as a hot breeze brushed dust over her bare arms and face. She wasn’t alone either, almost all the Ocampa who stepped out from the tunnels were dazzled by the sky and the sun, pausing to soak it in.
It took a long moment for her to finally lower her head and take in the remains of her world’s surface. Barren and dusty, it was worse than she’d expected. The tunnel they had used to leave their subterranean home emerged near the mining settlement the Kazon had used, nestled in the remains of an ancient Ocampa city. Sand had started to bury the Kazon shelters, crates and tools, as though the planet wanted to rid itself of the memory of their presence.
All around the camp sat an array of shuttles, all of different sizes, shapes and ages, but it was towards these that the Ocampa were being directed. She couldn’t believe they were actually getting ready to leave. The last twelve days had been a whirlwind.
It had all started almost two weeks ago, when the citizens of the city had been gathered together on the Great Plaza and Daggin had addressed them all, telling them of just how severe the situation with the city and its energy reserves were, as well as the plan that had been formed as a way to save them.
She had stood and listened, shocked and awed by what he was telling them. She had suspected that things were worse than they’d been told, but she’d never have dreamed it was as bad as it was; but when he’d announced that they could be able to evacuate the city and the planet onboard several ships, which they could then use to travel to a new home, she didn’t know what to think. Logically she knew it gave them a fighting chance to survive, although somewhat preposterous, but other than that she had felt a strong desire to get out from under the rocks and dirt and see the sky.
Even just by looking among the faces, she could see that many of the younger generation shared her yearning to take their wild chance, whilst the elders looked mortified at the thought of it, and those in between were a mixture of both. After the meeting they had been given a couple of days to think it over, assured that whatever decision they reached for themselves would be respected. As soon as the meeting had finished, she had approached Daggin and told him that she wanted to go. He had smiled at her in a knowing was, as though the decision she’d made only seconds earlier hadn’t surprised him in the slightest.
The city was then buzzing with chatter, both verbal and telepathic, as the people tried to decide their own fates. No one wanted to face eminent death but the thought of leaving their home was terrifying for some to comprehend, in time however more and more started to come forward and agree to the evacuation. Of the 335,619 men, women and children on Ocampa V, eighty-five percent of the population had chosen to leave, willing to take their chances in the unknown. Of the 50,441 who had opted to remain behind, only a handful were under seven years old, but all of them were staunch believers that they would be saved by the Caretaker and no one could convince them otherwise.
Daggin had been a man of his word and respected their choice, though not without asking them whenever the opportunity arose if they were certain of their decision. They all stuck by their belief and their choice. So as their neighbours, friends and in some cases family, packed up their possessions and supplies, those who were staying watched them go—however, as the reality set in a few wither changed their minds or were persuaded to leave as well, though not many.
All of that had led to this point. What had been an idea, a wild dream, was suddenly very real and she was beginning to doubt her choice—despite what she knew deep down that she belonged out there.
The soft, frail voice startled her, never realising her head had craned back up towards the vast blue sky. Looking behind her, she found an old woman, dressed in a simple grey tunic standing, smiling up at her.
“Hello,” she replied, studying the woman—there was something oddly familiar about her. “Can I help you?”
“I’m alright,” the old woman said, then looked up at the sky. “Wondrous isn’t it?”
Linnis looked back for a moment as well and smiled. “It really is. It’s beyond anything I could’ve imagined.”
“I remember the first time I saw it...it was the single most beautiful thing I’d ever seen. But it was only the beginning of something truly magnificent—as it will be for you, Linnis.”
She studied the woman again. “How do you know my name?”
“Linnis!” Daggin’s voice carried over the crowd.
It was after his second call for her that she looked away from the old woman and noticed him approach, a faint smile tugging at his lips. She glanced away from him and back at the old woman, only to find she’d vanished. Looking into the steady throng of people moving around her, she couldn’t see the woman. She was still looking when Daggin reached her.
“Problem?” he asked, a frown on his brow.
Slowly she shook her head. “No, it’s nothing.” Trying to shake the old woman from her mind, she smiled up at Daggin. “Why were you looking for me?”
“I just wanted to tell you there’s been a change in your travel plans. You’re now on the Ocampa ship.”
“That’s very sweet of you, Daggin.”
“What makes you think I had something to do with it,” he protested with a grin on his face.
“Call it a hunch.”
He chuckled. “Come on, the shuttle is over here. Let’s get you settled.”
She nodded, but before she followed after him, she took a moment to examine the crowd again for the old woman. There was no sign of her anywhere, but what she had said stayed with her; this was just the beginning.
Administration Centre, Ocama City Station
In orbit of Ocampa V, Delta Quadrant
The evacuation of the planet—or rather all those who wanted to leave—had been completed. Just one shuttle was left to take the last few from the station, all the others had ferried the Ocampa from either the planet’s surface or the station to one of the thirty ships that now sat in high orbit. In addition to the ancient Ocampa ship and the eight Kazon destroyers, there were six Vidiian medical transports, six Talaxian cargo barges, and nine Illidarian colonial liners. The flotilla was a unique amalgam of ships, but they all had one thing in common, large internal volume, which were now filled with thousands of Ocampa on each.
Through the transparent bulkheads of the Administrations Centre, Kes could see all thirty ships. Even before she sensed him coming, she knew Tanis would come and see her before he left. When the doors opened his footfalls echoed around the dual-level facility and steadily approached her.
She turned to face him before he came to a stop at the display table, his face locked in a serious expression though his eyes belied his concern.
“Kes, come with us. There is still plenty of room on the ships.”
She shook her head. “I’ve told you I can’t, Tanis. I need to operate the wave generator, monitor its output and be ready to correct any fluctuations—no one else can do it except me.”
It was not the first time he had tried to convince her to come with them. Throughout the last twelve days, as they procured additional ships, loaded up those who were eager to evacuate, taught some of the passengers how to monitor the basics of the systems, then transferred a small power generator from the station to the planet (for those who had chosen to stay), he had persisted with asking her to join them.
Part of her wanted nothing more than to go with them, so see all those onboard Voyager
once again, to see their homeworlds with her own eyes and the families that were whole once again, but she couldn’t…no matter how much she may have wanted. Just like Tanis and Daggin, she had her role to play and it wasn’t with them.
Tanis paused and turned to look out at the evacuation fleet. She could sense his thoughts storming under the surface, but didn’t push. Instead she looked back out on the fleet, it was a testament to her people and what they could accomplish in a short space of time, and soon they would be safer. It was all she hoped for them, to find somewhere they could call home and truly flourish.
“It won’t work, will it,” Tanis stated, breaking the silence. It wasn’t a question as he already knew the answer. “The wave transporter, it’s not enough to take the entire fleet away from here.”
“No, it’s not,” she admitted. “It could manage four, maybe five, ships. It needs a boost of energy to encapsulate the entire fleet and get them to the Alpha Quadrant, and there is no technology on board that could generate it.”
He turned to face her once again. “Kes, I’ve seen how much your abilities take from you every time you overexert yourself. What will happen to you if you do this?”
“I don’t know.”
“Then don’t do it. We still have time; we can find another way to generate the energy we need—”
She shook her head. “Even if we could, the emitters couldn’t handle it. This is the only way.”
“But it’ll most likely kill you!”
She nodded. “Most likely.”
“Kes,” he began but she cut him off.
“Tanis,” she began, turning to face him once again, her eyes locking onto his, “I always knew that what I had in mind would carry a great cost. So long as our people are safe, my sacrifice won’t have been for nothing. I’m counting on you and Daggin to make sure the Ocampa find a good home. Both sides have much to gain from the other and by unifying, our people will become more than they are.
“Promise me that you will do that,” she asked of him.
He gave a single nod. “I give you my word.”
“Thank you.” She turned away from him again. “You’d better get to your ship.”
Without another word, he slowly headed for the exit, paused for a moment, looking back at her and then left. It took him a good fifteen minutes to reach the shuttlebay and for the last evacuation shuttle to head for its designated ship. She watched as the little silver dart headed for the single Ocampa ship. As it disappeared inside the transport, she reached out with her mind, touching all those that she knew from her first year in the city, the last one being Daggin’s.
Her eyes moistened as she felt his growing affection for Linnis, the girl that she had once been; all the innocence, wonder, compassion and joy that had once been inside of her given form to live the life that she would never have. A smile spread across her thin lips as tears rolled down her wrinkled cheeks.
She stepped to the display table, which was already set to generate the displacement wave that would carry the thirty ships to the other side for the galaxy. Placing her hands on the table, she began to focus her mind on what she needed to do.
“Tanis to Kes. All ships are secured and report ready. You may proceed.”
The Administrations Centre filled with light from within her, growing brighter and brighter until she herself had to close her eyes against its brilliance—just like the first time she had seen her planet’s sun. Around her she heard the wave generator power up, but still she continued to build up her energy. She would only get one chance to do this and she had to do it right.
When she felt herself grow weak she pushed herself further, beyond anything she had ever tried before. She could feel the molecular bonds in her body vibrate as she drew upon every last ounce of strength and energy within her frail frame, until she couldn’t draw on anything more. It was now or never. Before she released her energy into the wave, she called out to all the minds she had touched upon.
*My gift to you.*
Then she simply let go. The last thing she felt was her energy focus into the wave, expel out into space and encompass the ships filled with her people.