Protégé

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\”Protege\”

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Voyager Story I

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by Emmy Odd @ aol.com

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To Michelle Green, A.K.A. ThePooh, who taught me how to
spell tricorder and gave me a place to let my creativity loose;
this story is humbly dedicated.

– – M. E.

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\”Ahhh.\” Kathryn Janeway breathed in deeply. Birds
twittered, and the sun warmed her face. She hadn\’t felt so at
peace in weeks… until a jarring beep and a youthful voice
echoed through the room where she stood. Harry Kim said,
\”Captain, there\’s a damaged runabout approximately 900 light
years away. There is one lifesign present.\” *Sigh* \”I\’m on my
way, Mr. Kim. End program.\” A pair of deep blue eyes glanced
skyward as the ornate room in her private holonovel vanished, and
the captain shook her head.

************************************************************

As Janeway strode onto the Bridge, Harry announced, \”We\’re
ready to lock on a tractor beam, Captain, at your order.\” Harry
Kim\’s fingers tensed as he anticipated her order.

\”Tractor it into Docking Station 3, and beam the survivor
to Sick Bay. Have Kes and the Doctor ready to receive it.\”
Janeway\’s mouth pursed into a concerned frown. \”I\’ll go to Sick
Bay; have B\’Elanna inform me of any anomalies in the wreckage.\”

************************************************************

Tuvok joined the Captain as she stepped out of the
turbolift. \”The wreckage is a small runabout, surrounded by
trace amounts of an unknown gaseous matter, which might be
related to a wormhole. It\’s so badly damaged, its a wonder this
alien survived.\”

As they walked in, Kes was hovering over a small form on a
distant biobed. The Doctor coughed loudly. \”Captain, the
patient is resting right now. She suffered mild concussions to
the head, and her ankle is twisted, but other than that, she\’ll
be fine in a few hours.\”

\”\’She\’?!?\” you mean the alien is female?\” the Captain
arched her eyebrow.

\”The \’alien\’ is a human female, approximately 14 to 15
years old.\” The Doctor replied blandly.

\”The markings on the runabout indicate a Federation
manufacture, Captain.\” Tuvoc interjected.

\”My God, how did such a young girl get a hold of a
Federation runabout?!?!\”

The Doctor scanned the young girl again. \”We\’ll find out
soon enough, Captain. I suggest you return to Sick Bay in a few
hours. She should be conscious then.\”

************************************************************

Chakotay and Janeway met in the Sick Bay at 1600 hours to
greet their \”guest;\” a small form that seemed even smaller in the
large metallic biobed. Janeway leaned over to smooth her hair,
and she stirred, opening her big hazel eyes. She looked around,
and, sitting up, said, \”Where am I?\”, fixing her gaze on the two
commanding officers. Janeway looked at Chakotay, and spoke to
the girl softly. \”My name is Captain Kathryn Janeway. You are
on the Starship Voyager. We know it must seem strange here, but
we can help you. But we don\’t know anything about you or your
runabout, much less how you got it. Your runabout was badly
damaged, and your sensor logs were destroyed. Can you remember
anything?\”

The girl nodded, wincing slightly. In a calm voice
strangly reminicent of the Captain\’s, she said, \”My name is Clare
Edwards. I\’ve lived my whole life on the starship Explorer. I
took my first steps on the Bridge. I spoke my first words in
engineering. I never knew my real parents. They abandoned me on
the Explorer. My guardian is Captain James Edwards. Since no
one knew my name, they named me Clare Edwards, after the
captain\’s sister. Before I woke up here, I was taking one of the
ship\’s runabouts to the Pioneer, which was docked about 2000
light-years away on Atanis 9. I was 1000 kilometers from the
Pioneer when a wormhole opened up right in front of me. But the
wormhole wasn\’t like any other wormhole I\’ve seen. It was like
some sort of plasma current sucked me in. A bright light blinded
me, and that\’s the last thing I remember until a few minutes
ago.\”

Janeway\’s eyes watered as she listened, then explained
Voyager\’s plight. \”You poor thing, now halfway across the
galaxy, knowing no one here! Your crew will be so sad… \”

The girl was silent. Her hazel eyes welled up with tears.
\”My only family has been on Explorer. The captain raised me along
with most of the ensigns and senior officers. Explorer had no
children\’s facilities, but I did correspondence courses with
Captain Edwards and Commander Marshier until I graduated from the
Academy last year.\”

\”That\’s quite a story, Miss,\” replied Chakotay. \”But can we
verify it?\”

\”If you check the records on Explorer from a year ago, you
will see Jr. Ensign Clare Edwards on the active crew.\” Her voice
hinted she was used to being underestimated.

\”I\’m sorry, Ensign, but the Commander has had a few bad
experiences with false crew members.\” grinned Janeway, more to
Chakotay than Clare. \”We\’ll let you rest now. When your ankle
heals, we can discuss signing you on as a Junior Ensign.\”

\”Thank you, Captain, Commander. I feel much better
already.\” She smiled, and Janeway thought how spirited and
prodigious she must be to graduate the Academy years before other
children even considered applying. But the uncanny child with
the bright gleam in her eyes, indicative of a sense of humor
lurking about, didn\’t look the part of a genius. Chakotay
thought that the brown haired, hazel eyed girl looked a lot like
Janeway… for a split second. His musing was interrupted by a
sudden shout: \”Bridge to Janeway! Bridge to Chakotay! You\’re
needed on the Bridge!\” With a harried glance at Chakotay, Janeway
ran out of Sick Bay, leaving Chakotay far behind.

************************************************************

As Janeway briskly stepped onto the Bridge, Chakotay
panting behind, (still in disbelief how fast Janeway could RUN!)
Harry Kim briefed them. \”Captain, Commander, there is an
unidentified object approximately 10000 light years in front of
us. We will approach it in about 2 1/2 hours. It could be an M-
class planet or a Kazon warship, and whatever it is, it appears
to be rather crudely cloaked, just enough to hinder
identification.\”

\”CLOAKED?!? Cloaking isn\’t used in the Delta Quadrant!\”

\”It could if a spy gave them a cloaking device.\” said
Chakotay quietly.

Janeway turned to face Chakotay. They look on his face
told her this wasn\’t something to be discussed on the Bridge.
She rested her hand on his shoulder. \”Let\’s discuss this in my
Ready Room.\”

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Once inside, Janeway turned to Chakotay. \”You don\’t mean
that Seska…?\”

\”She got to the Maquis, and the Federation… why not
someone else? There must be dupes like me in any organization.\”
he growled.

\”No dupe is a senior officer on this ship, Chakotay,\”
admonished Janeway, \”Seska was devious, and that is what made her
a good spy, not your gullibility.\” Janeway placed her hand on
his shoulder, as if to support and reassure him.

Chakotay looked up at the concerned face, and smiled wanly.
\”I wish I could believe that, Captain. But that\’s not the issue.
If Seska is on that cloaked ship, Voyager is in grave danger.\”

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The senior officers of the Starship Voyager met shortly
afterwards. But now Ensign Harry Kim wasn\’t the youngest crew
member present. An extra chair had been placed between Kim and
Captain Janeway, the occupant faintly aglow as she silently
observed the older officers and their seemingly telepathic
understanding as they discussed various possibilities of defense.
Clare understood the technical language that flew, but the worry
and faint fear in the officers\’ eyes, and the as they discussed
\’Seska\’ she couldn\’t fathom. A booming voice yelled, \”We
shouldn\’t stick around, waiting for them to decloak, just so we
can be SURE what it is?!? I say we either get the hell out of
dodge or blast it to kingdom come!\” The origin of the tirade,
Lieutenant Paris, jumped out of his seat.

Clare stared, fascinated. On Explorer, they never reacted
like that. The captain was supreme, his word was law. But here,
the captain was taken off her pedestal, strategies changed. And
here, a pilot can yell at a captain. Clare looked at the captain
with an awe she never associated with Captain Edwards. His rank
shielded him from these attacks. Even when she wasn\’t supposed
to, she had heard disgruntled ensigns, but never when the captain
was present. Captain Janeway earned the respect of two crews,
but wasn\’t cut any slack.

She sat, slack-jawed at this insubordination, until Harry
Kim nudged her from ennui, whispering conspiratorially, \”That\’s
just Tom, no one else, except B\’Elanna, pulls that with the
Captain. It\’s a long story.\” \”I bet.\” smiled Clare. She
wouldn\’t put anything past this crew, especially the dashing
pilot and amazing commanders.

A maternal, now-familiar voice jolted her back to reality.
\”Ensign Edwards,\” Captain Janeway asked, \”What do you think of
the situation?\”

Clare was confused. She was just a Junior Ensign, and she
was being asked about a crucial move. Things WERE different in
the Delta Quadrant. Gathering her wits, she said, \”Well Captain,
since we don\’t know if this Seska-person is even on this ship, or
even if it\’s a ship, firing photon torpedoes or avoiding contact
whatsoever will accomplish nothing. What if we meet it again
later? I think we should have weapons at the ready, but don\’t
fire until they show hostile intent. It could be someone or
something who can help us get home, for all we know.\”

Clare looked around nervously. Emboldened by the Captain\’s
confidence, she must have spoken too much. Suddenly the Captain
smiled warmly at Clare. \”Very good analysis, Ensign. I couldn\’t
have done much better. That\’s exactly what we\’ll do.
Dismissed.\” As the officers filed out of the room, Clare noticed
Lt. Paris was glaring in her direction. She couldn\’t think
why… then she realized what had happened. Lt. Paris could
commit rank insubordination, but Jr. Ensign Edwards could not
make a simple suggestion. Her cheeks burned, partly out of
embarassment, mostly out of indignation at this hypocrisy.

She let out an audible sigh as the Captain put her hand on
her shoulder and said, \”Ensign, its customary to leave the room
when you\’re dismissed.\” Noticing her blush hotly, she continued,
\”Don\’t worry about Tom, he\’s just suffering from a bruised ego.
It won\’t kill him; he needed it to be taken down a peg or two.
He\’ll warm to you eventually. Everyone else has. Just think of
us like the crew on the Explorer. Join me on the Bridge,
Ensign?\”

Clare brightened. \”Please, ma\’am, call me Clare. Captain
Edwards and the crew did, and I feel so alone here. No one called
me Ensign except the occasional Admiral or Captain who didn\’t
know I was the Captain\’s \’daughter\’.\”

Captain Janeway smiled at this eager face so similar to her
own. \”Of course I\’ll call you Clare, but you call me Captain
Janeway. I\’ve been through this with the crew. \’ma\’am\’ is for
crunch time, Clare.\”

\”Yes, Captain Janeway. But now that I\’m out of Sick Bay,
where will my quarters be?\”

\”There aren\’t any spare places with the Ensigns, and since
you\’re now primarily under my supervision, you will be given the
quarters nearest mine, and entered into the logs as Jr. Ensign
Clare Edwards. The few things we salvaged from your runabout are
in your quarters, as well as a PADD, your comm badge and uniform.
After you go to your quarters and get dressed, report to me and
the Commander on the Bridge. We\’ll explain your duties as Jr.
Ensign then. We still have to see where you\’re needed most on
board. I\’m sure you will be a very popular person here. You\’re
the closest connection to Earth and the younger generation we
have.\”

\”Yes, Captain, I hope so.\”

Kathryn Janeway watched the young girl grin as she turned
and jogged down the hallway, nearly bumping into Commander
Chakotay. She smothered a smile as the Commander darted out of
Clare\’s way. He shook his head, grinning. As he walked up to
the Captain, he said, \”Your protÇgÇ seems to have recovered, eh
Captain?\”

Janeway blushed. \”She\’s excited. It\’s a new adventure.
She\’s lived all her life on a starship, so it\’s not the strange
change it was to us.\”

Chakotay sobered as a new thought came to him. \”Until she
gets older and there\’s no one her age…\”

Janeway paled slightly. \”True, but we\’ll cross that bridge
in a few years. Who knows what might happen by then. But
there\’s still the matter of who she should report under.
According to her evaluation before she graduated, her Captain
said she would be good doing anything.\”

\”So that\’s no help. And everyone is equally staffed.\”

\”Captain! Commander! The cloaked vessel seems to be
attempting to decloak! You\’re needed on the bridge!\”
As they ran towards the turbolift, Janeway commented, \”Ever
noticed when we discuss Clare, we\’re needed on the Bridge?\”

************************************************************

Harry Kim briefed them. \”Captain Janeway, Commander
Chakotay, the vessel has decloaked 75% of itself. It\’s a Kazon
ship.\”

Chakotay glanced warily at Janeway. Immediately she said,
\”Don\’t worry. It\’s a one in a million chance.\”

\”Actually Captain, the odds of Seska being on that ship are
even less likely than that, given the amount of Kazon ships in
this area,\” Tuvok added.

\”But on the other hand Tuvok, the likelihood of me being
HERE is far less, but here I am.\”

The crew on the Bridge spun around. Right behind Harry Kim
was Seska, pointing a phaser at his head.

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\”What?!?\” Chakotay was still in disbelief.

\”You are such a fool! How could I have ever have loved
you!\” Seska growled at Chakotay.

Chakotay eyed Seska blandly. \”I don\’t think you ever
really did.\” Janeway stared at Chakotay. Any love he ever had
for this… monster… had left him long ago.

\”When I beamed aboard the Kazon warship, they let me do
anything I wanted, as long as I gave them the technology for
water. I experimented with a device for searching for wormholes.
I found one, and I used a infrared proton beam to force it open
from a Kazon equivalent of a runabout. Unfortunately, it
collided with that WHELP\’s runabout, and it sucked her into the
Delta Quadrant, instead of sending me home. It bounced back,
destroying my ship, and affecting my molecular structure until I
was changed into gaseous form surrounding the runabout.\”

\”So you were pulled in with the runabout.\” said Janeway,
almost fascinated.

\”You\’re very observant, CAPTAIN Janeway.\” Seska spit the
title out. Chakotay glared at Seska.

\”But if you were in a gaseous state, how did you
reconstitute your body?\” The scientist in Janeway begged to be
informed, dispite the situation.

\”It seems I have become a sort of changeling. After a few
hours in your airlock, I reconstituted. But your foolish
Federation officers never thought to search the docking station
after you rescued the whelp. So I helped myself to one of your
phasers.\” she said arrogantly. Then she turned to Chakotay.
\”But enough about me, how about you, Chakotay, darling?\”

\”Well, I\’m talking to a madwoman who\’s pointing one of our
phasers at an innocent Ensign, yet she calls me darling. I also
have a Kazon ship trying to decloak. It seems that you didn\’t
just give them water, but classified information as well. You
refuse mushroom soup once…\”

Seska snarled at Chakotay. \”Enough! As long as I\’m here
and I have my allies the Kazon here, I\’ll accept your gift of
your weapons, Chakotay.\”

\”You\’ll \’accept\’ no such \’gift\’, Seska.\” Chakotay leveled
his gaze at Seska and her hostage, wide-eyed with fear.

Seska jerked Harry, and pulled him close to her. She
narrowed her eyes into slits. \”If you wish your puny Ensign to
live you will.\”

************************************************************

Chakotay and Janeway looked fearfully at each other. Seska
laughed mockingly. \”You will regret the day you brought that
whelp\’s runabout on board, Janeway!\”

Seska felt a phaser on HER back. \”I don\’t like it when
people insult my captain. And I REALLY don\’t like to be called
\’whelp\’. Now drop the phaser.\” Clare managed to scowl at Seska
and beam at Janeway at the same instant. Pride filled Janeway\’s
heart. But they weren\’t the only people smiling. Smirking,
Seska twisted from Clare\’s grasp, pushing her into the console.
She spun around, aiming her phaser at the Captain. Without even
thinking, Chakotay leveled his phaser at Seska, and fired.

A painful banshee scream ripped through the Bridge. Seska
writhed, her body dissolving into putrid smoke. As her legs
disappeared, Seska motioned to Chakotay. He knelt before the
woman he thought he once loved, her body rapidly disinigrating.
He hoped she had repented, but she only whispered vengefully, her
eyes not on Chakotay but on the woman with the golden hair who
stood a few meters behind him. \”She will never let herself love
you, fool!\” Her body gave another shudder, and all that remained
of Seska was a thread of thinning smoke at Clare\’s feet. Two
pairs of eyes, one pair naive, one wise, both astonished, met,
and gazed downward at the remains and the sorrowful Commander.
Janeway knelt beside Chakotay. \”You saved my life, Commander.\”
Chakotay didn\’t even hear her, nor feel her touch on his
shoulder. \”She is gone,\” he muttered numbly, wondering if her
passing or her words frightened him more.
Janeway looked up at his grave face, startled by his tone,
then lowered her eyes. \”She is gone.\”

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\”…so that\’s what happened to the Doctor and me on the
Holodeck.\” Harry Kim leaned back in his Mess Hall chair, smiling
at Clare. Clare smiled, then laughed out loud.

\”I\’m sorry, Harry, but to hear you talk about Lt. Paris,
the crew and your wonderful stories that way puts a whole new
spin on it, even if we are 75 years from home. I\’m almost glad
that I\’m here to share the experience with you all.\”

Harry shrugged modestly. \”I\’m glad you\’re here, too. You
did save my life, Clare.\”

Clare blushed. \”Wouldn\’t anyone have?\”

Harry smiled. \”As for the stories, they\’re for your
protection. Maybe next time you one-up Tom, you\’ll think better
of it.\”

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\”Come.\”

\”You asked to see me, Captain Janeway?\”

\”Yes, we\’ve decided where you\’ll work best in this crew.\”

\”Yes?\”

\”You\’ve technically intelligent enough to work in
Engineering, but that\’s not where we\’re placing you.\”

\”That\’s fine, Captain.\”

\”But we decided to put you in the Mess Hall with Neelix.\”

\”Excuse me, Captain?\”

\”I\’m just kidding, Clare. You\’ll need to develop a better
sense of humor if you\’re working under Lt. Paris.\”

\”Lt. Paris?!?\”

\”Don\’t worry, Clare. You\’ll be reporting to me and the
Commander, but Lt. Paris will help you with your piloting
skills.\”

\”But he hates me, Captain Janeway!\”

\”We\’ll see, Clare.\”

Clare whirled out of the room, her youthful face full of
doom and gloom. Seconds later, Chakotay entered the room. \”I
suppose Clare doesn\’t like the idea of reporting to me?\” he
smiled.

Janeway grinned at Chakotay. \”Don\’t be so modest,
Commander. You did save her life… and mine also.\” She blushed
slightly, and looked down.

Chakotay set his mouth. \”I only did what is my duty,
Captain.\”

Janeway fingered the pips at her collar. \”She was your…
crewman, Commander.\”

Chakotay\’s eyes flashed. \”She was a traitor!\” Chakotay
snapped bitterly. He saw Janeway\’s probing glance, and faltered.
\”I\’m sorry, Captain, but…\”

Janeway gazed deeply at Chakotay. \”Say no more, Commander.
I know what I would do if someone I… trusted let me down.\”

Chakotay looked at his commanding officer as this telling
piece of her armor fell. He looked at Janeway as if in a
slightly different light, however tinged somewhat by the shadow
of Seska\’s words. \”I hope I will never betray such a… trust,
Captain.\”

Janeway smiled warmly at Chakotay. Somehow, they had
bonded in a new way in that moment. \”So do I, Commander, so do
I.\”

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Fin

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Comments are appreciated

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All characters and the Star Trek Voyager name, except for Clare
Edwards, belong to the owners of the copyrights thereof,
Paramount, UPN, ect. This story is for entertainment purposes
only, and distribution is encouraged (keep my name on it,
though!).

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In this series:

Voyager I: ProtÇgÇ
Voyager II: DÇtente
Voyager III: Amantium Irae
Voyager VI: Puppy Love
Voyager V: Parti Pris
Voyager VI: Roles

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