Beth6787

December 2018

Ghost

Kathryn Janeway gets a 'wake up call' in the last data transmission from home before "Endgame"...

Captain's Personal Log. - Star date 54901.2

" Computer, begin recording. Belay that order ... I... I've no idea what I want to say."

No. That's not true. I do know, only I cannot find the words. After all these years : have I really become so insular? Maybe finally speaking in real time to Phoebe - after what seems like an entire lifetime has passed - has forced me to step outside myself and see what she sees. I don't like this 'Captain Janeway' much either.

Oh, I've been briefed these last couple of years about the course of the Dominion War and its' immediate aftermath. Now, ten months after the cessation of hostilities, there is still an ever present sense of fear. All that the Federation citizens held dear - above all their absolute confidence in the ability of the United Federation of Planets and Starfleet per se to protect them : gone. Phoebe... my little sister... lost everything and everyone. Mother, her husband, her only child. All destroyed in less than ten minutes by a Jem' Hadar raid on the colony world she had settled on after her marriage to Jeff.

But when we finally had our allotted ten minutes exchange via Pathfinder (in the privacy of my Ready Room, there are still a few perks to being The Captain) what did she want to talk about? Me. Or rather, Kathryn. Kathryn...the sister she once had : many, many years ago. And what did I have to say for her? Nothing! For me she ceased to have a life a long time ago. Oh, she raised her head every so often, and without fail caused me almost unendurable pain. Chakotay on New Earth; Michael Sullivan; Jaffen ... and that's just since we have been stranded out here! Before that...Justin...Mark. So I told her straight. 'Kathryn' doesn't exist. I am 'Captain Kathryn Janeway of the starship Voyager'.

Phoebe being Phoebe : I expected her to laugh sarcastically at me then make some smart retort.

Instead she said nothing for more than a minute as her eyes welled up. Followed by, "Then I have lost the last of my family...I had so hoped...I felt such joy when I heard you were alive out there. That all was not gone forever. Perhaps you were happy with a family of your own... foolish of me. You always were Father's daughter. Starfleet above all else. It would seem that even being half a galaxy away has not changed that. I'm so sorry for you."

I was about to give her my standard spiel about the rewards of duty blah blah blah when she whispered something that hit me with the force of a sudden drop from warp 9 to impulse speed. "Before she died, Mother told me that you had found happiness with the former Maquis captain you captured. Chakotay, isn't it? She was so sure..."

I was blindsided and grappling in my mind for an appropriate response, when the computer interceded to announce we had only one minute remaining. Before I had a chance to form a coherent sentence Phoebe closed the distance between her face and the viewscreen her end. "Captain, please - let Kathryn live. If I have learned anything these past few years it is that all we have is now. It can be extinguished in the blink of an eye. Starfleet protocol; duty; rules & regulations...all of it. Snuffed out by one phaser blast or one torpedo. Since you were lost seven years ago you became yet another ghost in my memory. Now you stand in front of me resurrected in the flesh but you have become a ghost to yourself. Please let Kathryn live again ..."

With that she was cut off. Our allotted time up. Since then I have done nothing but think. Only last week our EMH was compromised by a alien race called The Hierarchy. During that time he masqueraded as many of the senior officers including myself. He became a ghost image of Captain Janeway. It was a grotesque caricature with sinister intentions... I wonder? If I asked the Holographic Research Laboratory computer to create a facsimile of "Kathryn Janeway" what it would produce? ...

40 minutes later in the Research Laboratory...

Well, now I know. A perfect visual representation which is completely inert.

"Insufficient data to create personality subroutines" was the exact phrase the computer used. Yet when I asked the computer to reset the parameters to recreate Captain Janeway the simulation immediately came to life. Or rather it very accurately simulated the 'perfect' Starfleet Officer. Alive she most definitely was not!

Hitting the delete button I inwardly breathe a sigh of relief but what now? How do I resurrect Kathryn? Is there enough of a trace of her left? Or is she really only a phantom of Phoebe's imagination?

"Commander Chakotay to Captain Janeway."

My reverie is interrupted as real life intrudes, dispelling the ghosts of my past in an instant.

"Yes Commander?"

"Captain, we were scheduled to meet in your Ready Room for an Engineering Review at 2100. It is now 2115.."

"My apologies Commander. On my way. Janeway out."

I strode along Deck 2 as fast as I could without actually breaking into an "un-captainly" run. By the time I strode across the Bridge as Gamma shift were settling in for the night, I had morphed back into 'The Captain'. It wasn't until I walked through those Ready Room doors - and was confronted by the odour of freshly replicated warm bread and wild mushroom soup and saw the tray complete with a fresh mug of steaming coffee and the concerned but warm smile in my First Officer's eyes - that it finally hit home.

You see, the ghost of Kathryn is resurrected in the depths of those deep brown eyes every time Chakotay is alone with me. Every day, when he goes above and beyond the call of duty to ensure I survive. More than that, I thrive. But it is not Captain Janeway that he succours. It is the woman he promised to stand beside all those years ago. Kathryn. It was always her he saw, however hard Captain Janeway sought to eliminate her ghost. She is still there in his eyes this evening and suddenly I understand what Phoebe was saying the me. Truly understand.

In the grand scheme of things, in all the vastness of space and the politics of trillions of souls... all that we can truly determine is the course of our own hearts. The only judgment that matters is that of our own conscience.

Perhaps it is already too late but whilst I can still see a glimmer of her flit across his eyes : I will do all that I can to resurrect her ghost.

THE END

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