|No More Lies
I can't believe we're back here. After fourteen months, we're once again in orbit around this beautiful unnamed planet. The one where the Captain abandoned my best friend, Tom, along with his lover, Chakotay, and two other men, Ayala and Gerron.
They were left behind because of the pettiness of Starfleet regulations and Captain Janeway's refusal to relax the rules, even though we're miles from home, stuck in the Delta Quadrant. And if she'd had her way, if circumstances hadn't dictated otherwise, we wouldn't be here now. The decision to return was forced upon Janeway. She had no choice in the matter.
It was just over six months after leaving our friends, that we ran into serious trouble. We'd survived a few skirmishes in that time, but they were nothing compared to the onslaught we sustained from the Gabadians. They were the sort to 'shoot first and ask questions later'.
For a whole month, we'd travelled without incident. Then, out of the blue, we were attacked by a succession of small ships. They fired incessantly at us for over two hours. Finally, and just as our shields had dropped to an almost critical level, the ships broke away, leaving us in a state of frenzied activity as we tried desperately to repair the damage they'd caused.
Fortunately, our shields had mostly done their job. The majority of the damage we sustained had happened during the first unprovoked attacks, when we were momentarily caught off guard. The crew worked determinedly to make the repairs, not even letting up when the next wave of marauders caught up with us less than an hour later.
Once again, we were fired upon relentlessly. We were chased, forced to reverse course, hounded until our shields were about to give out. Then, just as we were preparing to defend ourselves against what we believed would be their next step, a boarding party, we received a hail from the lead ship.
As the small vessels that had attacked began to arrange themselves around us, I followed the Captain's orders to answer the communication. Our viewscreen came to life, showing a large, fierce-looking humanoid who informed us that his name was Evgra Diral. He then demanded that we return the way we had come, vacating Gabadian space. As our ship was in no condition to withstand another attack, the Captain had no choice but to comply.
For the next six months, we were continually shadowed by Gabadian ships. We were not allowed to complete repairs. We tried to raise our shields once, having managed to get them to a respectable eighty percent, but as soon as we did we were attacked by a dozen vessels. Evgra Diral contacted us, explaining, with what looked like a sneer on his face, that we were effectively under arrest for trespassing, and would have to submit to his will until we were out of Gabadian territory.
If only Chakotay had still been with us, I'm sure that his negotiating skills would have been a definite asset in this situation. And I'm sure if Tom had been flying, Voyager would have sustained less damage. That's not to say that Baytart didn't do an excellent job, but it can't be denied that Tom is one hell of a pilot. He was born to it. He always seemed more alive at the helm of Voyager than he did anywhere else. I wonder how he's coped with being grounded all this time. I hope to find out shortly.
It's been a week now since the Gabadian 'escort' ships departed. Evgra Diral gave us strict instructions not to invade Gabadian space again, helping in the matter by issuing us with star charts that showed the borders of their territory. As Seven examined the charts, she discovered that our route would take us almost directly back to the place of our friends' exile. As it is the only M-class planet in this sector, and we need to replace our almost non-existent supplies, the Captain decided that we should return here. The only thing that seems to be bothering her about the situation is that, due to another Starfleet regulation, she will have to ask the enforced colonists' permission before embarking on her plans.
I have no doubts that Chakotay, Tom, Ayala or Gerron will have any objections to us gathering supplies, providing of course that they're still okay. The Captain, on the other hand, isn't so sure. She seems convinced that the men will harbour a grudge against her, and will refuse permission for an away team to be sent down.
I don't know why she thinks so little of her former officers. They're all decent men. They always acted in the best interests of Voyager and I know they won't allow their friends to suffer now. They are aware that their remaining on this planet was all down to regulations and Janeway's intransigent position, but that, ultimately, she decided to abide by their own wishes. They wanted to leave the ship rather than be forced to live a life of secrecy, or have to spend the rest of the journey home in the brig. Yes, they will definitely blame the Captain for her lack of understanding and her almost obsessive regard for the regulations, but they won't blame anyone else.
I just wish Janeway would open her eyes and see them as everyone else does; brave, honest men who would have willingly died to save their colleagues. Instead, her vision is clouded by nonsensical rules and prejudice. It's a crying shame, and a poor reflection on Starfleet's so-called 'ethics'.
We've been in orbit for about an hour now. We've tried to raise the men on the communications device that was left with them. We haven't had any luck so far. Unfortunately, because of damage caused in the last Gabadian attack, we're unable to scan the planet's surface. I've just retrieved the co-ordinates of where the men were originally left, though. It was a very hospitable and fertile place. We're hoping they will have remained in the area, or that at least they won't have settled too far away from it. Once we're on the ground, and providing they're within range, we'll be able to use our tricorders to locate them. I hope that when we get down there, our friends will be well. I can't imagine what their reactions will be at seeing us again.
What will they look like? How well will they have they survived? How will they have coped with the knowledge that they would never return to their homes in the Alpha Quadrant? Will Janeway, after restocking Voyager, simply abandon the men again? Or will she allow them to rejoin the ship? These are some of the questions that I've heard many of the crew discussing. No-one knows the answers.
For myself, I believe the Captain will stick to her guns and refuse to let the men back onboard. I hope I'm wrong, but with her jaundiced view of them all, I can't see her reaching any other conclusion. She won't want to be seen as being weak. Fourteen months ago, and a few months after leaving two young officers on another planet, she put four more good men off the ship because they didn't conform to Starfleet's ideals. If she reverses that decision, I believe she'll feel as though she's admitting that she was wrong. Something that Janeway never likes to be.
Me, I don't mind being wrong. And I really hope and pray that this time, I am.
Just over a year ago, when we flew away from this planet and left Tom and the others behind, a part of me died. I don't think I could survive the same experience a second time.
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