Chapter 8 – New Earth
The forty Voyager crew of the Santa Lucia settlement sat in a semicircle on logs about a fire pit. It was a weekly ritual since their arrival nearly three months earlier. For the last couple of weeks, however, the weather had turned hot with late afternoon thunderstorms and so they decided again to hold the meeting earlier and not to have the fire going. The meeting place was centrally located in the settlement next to the Tereshkova and landing area for the other shuttlecraft. To the west was the island's interior. The forest began about a hundred meters off and the distant mountains, when not covered in clouds, could be seen above the treetops. To the south was where most of the construction in the new settlement was taking place and beyond that the river that flowed into the ocean. To the east, the grassy area extended to the coastline about two hundred meters off. Twenty to thirty meter sandstone bluffs with a sandy beach and ocean below. To the north was an expanse of generally flat knee high grassland interspersed with splashes of color in the form of wildflowers. It was an ideal spot for Voyager to land when it finally arrived.
Miguel Ayala was up in front of the group. "The water supply for the settlement and main septic system are still functioning as expected," he said. "We've completed the leachfields for all the lodge houses and formed the septic tanks, and all of them have been plumbed for fresh water and sanitation, but we've run out of piping for the lodge septic systems. From the lodge to the tanks, and then from the tanks to the leachfields. We'll need one of the shuttles for a couple days to replicate the remaining pieces."
"I think the Tereshkova is back up to fifty eight percent," Chakotay commented. "That's a reasonable reserve. You can use its replicator to manufacture what you need."
Ayala nodded. "With that, we should be good to operate the water and sanitation systems in the lodges in about two weeks. Three weeks tops. So we all still have to use the main latrine area until then." He glanced around and then nodded again. "That's about it." He moved over back to his spot next to Marina.
Jenny Delaney then stood up and moved to the front of the group. "Not much different to report on from this past week," she said. "We're at the height of harvest season in our immediate area and surrounding islands. Our stores continue to grow, and as expected, we now have more than enough for the winter for ourselves, even without going to the other hemisphere in the shuttles or other winter gathering. We're continuing to collect and store at our current levels, however, in anticipation of Voyager's arrival."
"Aren't we past time for them to get back?" Ken Dalby asked. He was on Ayala's water and plumbing team. Voyager's return was a subject that came up more and more often in conversations about Santa Lucia. After the initial two weeks when it became clear Voyager wasn't coming in the expected short timeframe if they had found warp-grade dilithium, they had all been anticipating about a two month wait. Dalby was directing the question to Chakotay and Seven who sat at the end of the semicircle.
"I think we're still within the window of what we expected if they didn't find the dilithium they needed," Seven replied.
Dalby looked to his left and right to the people around him. "I've been chatting with others lately, and we're just wondering if we should send one of the shuttles out in that direction to meet them and render assistance if required," he persisted.
"That would slow our gathering efforts," Jenny said in the front of the group. "We're at the peak of the purple berry harvest on the outlying islands in our archipelago. All the available shuttles are being used nearly continuously for that and the grain we're getting on the continent. An off world mission would limit us and cut into that shuttle's reserve power for future missions in future seasons."
"Ken does have a point though," Cathal O'Donnel chimed in. "Much of our planning depends on when Voyager and the rest of the crew will be joining us here. At the very least we could extend our communication range. Assess their status if we do contact them, or push out their expected return if we don't."
Chakotay nodded. He too was getting worried about Voyager. "Ken, start planning who and what you'll need for such a mission. Plan for a total mission time of eight days. You'll be able to go nearly halfway to the system Voyager visited and get back here and report what you find. Your departure will be three days from now."
Ken nodded satisfied and sat back down. Jenny wasn't happy with the decision, but it least gave her three days to plan how they would apportion out the other two shuttles. It had been decided in the beginning to keep the Tereshkova in reserve, principally to serve as Commander Chakotay's and Seven's quarters due to Seven's regeneration needs, but perhaps that could be modified during Ken's off world mission and they could maintain the three shuttle schedule. Jenny looked about. "As I said, not much different from my team this week," she said. "I'll get with everybody with a new schedule tomorrow. Any questions?" No one spoke up, so Jenny moved over to take her seat near Marina and Ayala.
Next to get up was T'Vora. She was the settlement's medic since she was the only one with any medical training. "We are all here for this week's meeting, so you can conclude that all of us who contracted that virus from a couple weeks ago have recovered and there have been no new cases. As I reported last week, I isolated the virus and developed a vaccine for it and any of its mutations. This week I inoculated the few who hadn't already acquired the virus, but it appears our own immune systems will be sufficient for those of us who did. Additionally, I've run toxicology on the new food sources Jenny has supplied me, and all of them are safe for our consumption. I have nothing more to report."
"What about Miguel's broken arm?" Ed Mathews said with a chuckle.
T'Vora bowed slightly. "Of course. My apologies. This past week I did set and treat Miguel for a broken humerus he sustained while climbing the bluffs by the coast. I would like to remind everybody to stay on the paths we've created when hiking in this area."
Dalby shook his head with a smile. "You and your birds."
Ayala smiled back and shrugged.
"I think our last update is from the structures team," Chakotay said.
Cathal stood up and moved to the center where T'Vora had just been. "We now have all moved into the lodges we've built on the south end of town, so the last of the emergency shelters has been turned over to the food team for storage."
"Not all of us," Matthews called out.
Cathal smiled and gestured to Chakotay and Seven. "Of course our fearless leadership team remains in their luxury accommodations on the Tereshkova. No change in that."
"I've taken a look at those lodge rooms," Chakotay retorted. "They are all much more spacious than our accommodations."
"We'll see what we think about the extra room come winter if the heating doesn't work and we don't get the insulation completed in those lodges," Marina replied.
"The heating will work just fine," Cathal said. "And we can start getting the insulation replicated once the Tereshkova's power is back up to seventy percent. Regarding that, the hydroelectric system is still functioning at ninety five percent capacity and we've wired all the lodges for power. Excess production is still being shunted into the Tereshkova, but once we do start needing heat, we'll probably be drawing energy back out. I've run the numbers, and I think we'll be fine, but we might want to build the infrastructure necessary to wire the other shuttles into the grid as well, just in case."
"That sounds prudent," Seven commented.
"Our hope, of course, is that Voyager does return and we'll be able to use our old quarters. We could also use Voyager's replicators to manufacture photovoltaics or heat pumps for air conditioning for next summer. Nevertheless, we have broken ground on the west end for the additional lodges for the rest of the crew in case Voyager returns but is unable to land. We're running out of materials for cement, so we'll need one of the shuttles to go to the quarry to get some more." He looked down at his feet and moved a stick with the tip of his boot. "I know it's all in the back of our minds, and I imagine we all might be reluctant to talk about it, but I think we have to start planning what to do for the possibility that Voyager doesn't return."
There were now a few murmurs amongst the group. The whereabouts and safety of the rest of the crew was a concern on everybody's mind. Chakotay cleared his throat. "The time will come when we have to start thinking about that possibility," he said. "I think it's all the more important for us to hear back from Ken and his team on their scouting mission before we make any decisions. In two week's time, we'll know more and can make plans then."
Cathal nodded. Not quite satisfied, but enough for now. "That's it for me."
Chakotay looked up at the sky. "I estimate we have about an hour before the evening monsoon rains come through, so let's adjourn the meeting for now to give us some time to wrap things up for the day."
People stood and started moving off in various directions. Chakotay and Seven moved over to the Tereshkova which was next to the meeting place and went inside. The inside of the shuttle had been converted into a makeshift living quarters with a bed of sorts constructed from two of the chairs on one side and a small table with two of the other chairs facing each other on the other side. Seven needed the Tereshkova to power her Borg regeneration. The Doctor had fashioned a bracelet of sorts that she wore during the night. Before they settled themselves in, Ayala knocked on the side of the still open door. "Got a minute?" he asked.
Both Seven and Chakotay motioned him inside. Seven moved to sit in one of the pilot's chairs which were both also swiveled to face backwards and Ayala settled himself down in the chair at the table closest to the door while Chakotay sat across from him. "What's on your mind?" Chakotay asked.
"Cathal's question in the meeting," Ayala replied. "Marina and I have been chatting about the possibilities too. There's one thing that we haven't yet talked about as a group and perhaps we should throw that into the planning mix when the time comes."
"What's that?" Seven asked.
Ayala turned to look out the door. The dark monsoon clouds were building in the west. A moist breeze was starting to kick up foreshadowing the storms to come. "We kind of like it here," he said. "If and when Voyager does return, I imagine Captain Janeway will still be itching to get on the way back to the Alpha Quadrant. Some of us, however, are not so sure we want to leave."
"Some of us?" Seven said, raising an eyebrow. "You and Marina?"
Ayala shrugged. "I've talked to some others too. We've been all working so hard getting the settlement up and running and planning for Voyager's return, we haven't really discussed all the possibilities moving forward. I've been wondering about how you two felt about moving on or staying here if it came to that."
Seven and Chakotay exchanged a quick look. Although they hadn't said anything out loud to each other, they had both fallen into a very comfortable routine here on the planet. Chakotay had been piloting shuttles to the various outlying islands in support of Jenny's food team and Seven had been helping Cathal design the nascent electric grid. It had all be a much more pleasant routine than scratching their way across the Delta Quadrant had been in the years before. Honestly, much like their time in the simulated Santa Lucia of the holodeck after the Hirogen had been defeated. "I think we could be easily convinced to stay here on the planet," Chakotay replied for the two of them.
Ayala smiled and nodded slowly. "I figured as much," he said. "In all honesty, I think most everyone here is leaning to say. We all volunteered to come here in the first place after all. It might be wise to start figuring out what we say to those coming on Voyager, so we all have realistic expectations moving forward."
Ayala looked out once again at the clouds. These afternoon monsoon storms built up rapidly when the did come. "I better get moving," he said. "Are we still all going to the beach tomorrow morning for our time off?"
"Of course," Seven replied. "Chakotay is still teaching me how to swim."
Ayala stood and moved towards the door. "Okay then. Marina and I will meet you in that sheltered cove we like at say eight o'clock. We're going for a sunrise hike along the bluffs above to see if we can see those nesting sea birds up close."
"You be careful," Chakotay replied tapping his arm and smiling.
Ayala winked. "We'll be fine this time. Marina and I pooled our replicator rations and made a pair of binoculars."
Chakotay opened his eyes, uncertain what had disturbed him. Seven lay beside him sleeping, or rather regenerating although it amounted to the same thing. His arm was serving as her pillow. Due to the warm weather, he wasn't wearing a shirt and they were both above their sheet and blanket. No light filtered in from the shuttle's front windows indicating it was still dark outside. Suddenly, a chime sounded briefly on the Tereshkova's communications board. That must have been it. He shifted to sit up and Seven woke up. "What is it?" she asked and sat up as well.
"We're getting a signal," Chakotay replied. "Computer, lights." The computer executed his command. He got out of their bed and moved to the front of the shuttle. He pressed the appropriate button on the comm panel, audio only. "This is Chakotay."
"I was beginning to wonder if anyone was going to answer," Captain Janeway said. "We're in orbit. By the looks of the planet below, I imagine it's the middle of the night where you are."
"Good to hear your voice," Chakotay replied relieved. Voyager had finally made it to the planet. "You're correct." He looked out the front of the shuttle again, but didn't see any hint of twilight off to the east. "Still many hours until sunrise, I suspect. You say you're in orbit, why didn't you contact us sooner?"
"We blew out our long range communications along with a few other systems when we tried going to higher warp using the dilithium we found."
"What went wrong?"
"Impurities in the dilithium. We're okay at low warp, but it fails at higher factors. I thought the quality was within acceptable tolerances, but was wrong."
"I'm surprised B'Elanna went along with that."
"It was over her objections. We've been restricted to just over warp one and couldn't contact you before now. Sensors are degraded too. I think we need Seven's expertise to repair some of the damage to Astrometrics. We're honing in on your signal now though and have located your settlement on an island in the southern hemisphere."
"That's us. We have a spot all ready for Voyager to land north of the settlement," Chakotay said. "I can send you the exact coordinates."
"Negative," Janeway replied. "If we land Voyager, we don't have enough power to lift back off the surface. The power we do have from what we were able to obtain in the other star system is enough for the replicators and to sustain us for a year or more. Once it's morning at your site, we should all meet up here on Voyager to discuss our next move. My current thought is to use the Delta Flyer to scout out more distant systems. It might take some time to find the warp-grade dilithium we need, but we're out of options. We have to take that time."
Chakotay hesitated and glanced to Seven who had moved up beside him. "Captain, I'd suggest instead you come down here to see the settlement. I think it would be easier for all of us to meet on the planet's surface."
"Transporters are offline indefinitely for biomatter. Too risky with the dilithium we're using."
"Then come down in the Flyer," Chakotay persisted. "Bring as many as can fit. I'd like to show you around so you can see what we've built here."
There was an extended pause. Chakotay sensed uncertainty on her part. "Okay Commander," Janeway finally responded. "We'll arrive a couple hours after your local sunrise. We're all pretty exhausted here. We've synchronized our time to yours and plan to get some rest. I suggest you get back to sleep and we'll see you in the morning."
"Understood. Thankful you've made it here safely. Chakotay out." He terminated the connection.
"Should we wake the others," Seven asked.
Chakotay shook his head. "It can wait to the morning," he said. They both stepped back and slipped into the bed. He laid back down and Seven positioned herself beside him as they had been before. "Computer, lights off," he said. The computer again dutifully executed his command. "What do you think of the Captain's plan?" he asked.
"It does not change my mind on our future course," Seven replied immediately. "I wish to stay here in Santa Lucia. Start of family, if that's possible."
Chakotay nodded in the dark. "That is my desire as well."
At sunrise, they informed the rest of the Santa Lucia settlement of Voyager's arrival and of their resolve to stay on the planet. As it turned out, everyone in the settlement was intent on staying as well. For many, it was a relief to finally say it out loud and realize that others felt the same way.
Right on schedule and two hours later the Flyer flew in from the west and circled the settlement before picking a spot on the outskirts to land. The hatch opened and out filed Captain Janeway, Tuvok, B'Elanna, Tom Paris, Harry Kim and a few others. Chakotay, Seven and the rest were there to greet them.
"Welcome to Santa Lucia," Chakotay said with open arms.
Janeway raised her eyebrows and then looked about. "Not quite the Wild West with the desert landscape from the holodeck, but a pleasant town you've established here."
Chakotay pointed in the direction of the river. "We get all our electric power from the compact hydroelectric turbine we replicated and brought from Voyager. It's located about a two hundred meters up river, along where we extract some of the water into a small reservoir we built to then treat and bring down to the settlement for our water needs."
"Impressive," Tuvok said. He was near the Tereshkova. "It appears as if you are using the shuttlecraft as a battery of sorts."
"Exactly," Chakotay replied. "It's tied directly into the grid and absorbs the excess load to recharge its systems.
"Our intent is to tie all the shuttles into the electric grid before winter," Seven added.
Tom Paris gestured towards the emergency shelters still in place nearby. "Are you all still living in those things?" he asked.
"We're using the shelters for food storage," Jenny Dehlany said. She then pointed towards the south. "Those buildings over there, we call them lodges, have room enough for seven or eight people each. We're all living in them, and in a few weeks they'll have working internal plumbing."
Janeway smiled. "Sounds perfectly civilized," she joked.
"Want to take a look?" Jenny asked. "You should also see the sandstone bluffs along the coast just east of here. They're spectacular, particularly in the morning light."
Tom and B'Elanna nodded. Janeway waved them on and Harry and the others followed Jenny and others from the settlement. Janeway remained behind with Chakotay and Seven.
"We're all pretty happy with it," Chakotay said when the others had left. "In fact, Captain, all of us here are convinced we'd like to make our home here permanently."
Janeway stopped and turned to face her First Officer. "Give up on going home?" she asked incredulously.
Chakotay shrugged and glanced at Seven. "We feel like we are home," he finally replied.
Janeway frowned. She spotted the semicircle of logs at the meeting place and motioned for them all to move over to there. They all sat down on one of the logs. Chakotay noticed Janeway did so wearily.
"I've had a great deal of time to reflect on what Seven said at that last meeting," Janeway started. "The point of fact is, I do feel responsible for stranding us all here in the Delta Quadrant. I am in a way obsessed with getting us all home because I want to correct that mistake. None of us would be here if it were not for my decision."
"That is true Captain," Seven replied. "If it were not for you, I might still be a Borg drone. I wouldn't be here with Chakotay, my husband. I would not have had the opportunity to reclaim my humanity."
Janeway paused. "I'm thankful we were able to help you," she finally managed.
"The point is Kathryn, much good has come out of your decision to help the Ocampa and destroy the Caretaker's array" Chakotay added. "I've been your First Officer now for five years and know for a fact we would not have survived this long without your leadership and guidance."
"Chakotay, it's been a team effort. You and me and the whole crew working together is what has gotten us this far."
"It's time now for us to make some hard decisions," Chakotay said. I think, for some of us, it's time to settle down and live the rest of our lives not going somewhere but being somewhere."
Janeway nodded slowly. "I suspect there will be some who won't want to give up on returning to the Alpha Quadrant," she said. "If there's anyone who wants to go, after we get that dilithium we need, I'm obligated to be there with them."
"By your own estimate, that's still a year or more away," Chakotay responded. "In the meantime, we can settle in here. In Santa Lucia." He looked about and then winked. "I think with the rest of the Voyager crew here, this town will need a mayor. What do you think?"
Janeway smiled. "Would you be the town's sheriff?" she asked.
Chakotay shook his head. "I'll leave that to Tuvok. I think going forward, I want to concentrate on being a husband." He then wrapped his arm around Seven and added, "and the Great Spirt willing, a father."
"I'm happy for you both," Janeway said. She looked about and her eyes settled to the clouds over the mountains in the interior of the island. "How long do we have until the rains come," she asked knowingly.
"They usually come near sunset, in the evening," Chakotay replied.
Janeway tapped her comm badge. "Voyager, Condition Blue. Start preparing the ship for landing. I'll be returning shortly in the Flyer." She tapped her comm badge again. "Lieutenants Paris and Torres."
"Meet me back at the Flyer in an hour," she replied. "We're going back to Voyager to land the ship."
She then turned back to Chakotay and Seven. "Did I hear Ensign Dehlany say something about sandstone bluffs by the coastline nearby?"
Seven nodded and pointed to the east. "About a two hundred meter walk in that direction. They do look particularly nice in the morning light. There's also a path down to the beach if you're interested."
Janeway stood up and sighed. It was almost as if a weight had been lifted from her shoulders. "Indeed I am. Please, lead the way."
Author's note: Ten years ago, I discovered fan fiction after searching for stories on the internet speculating about what might have happened with Chakotay and Seven of Nine beyond the Star Trek Voyager series finale. Inspired by the stories I found in scifiromance's C/7 community The Commander and The Borg, particularly Teya's excellent post-Endgame series, I decided to try my best to contribute to the fandom.
Thank you to all who have read, favorited, followed, or reviewed my stories. I think reviews are the life blood of fan fiction and I've tried to contribute to that aspect as well. I have enjoyed your virtual company via our stories and reviews and in some cases PMs. Particularly, I'd like to thank scifiromance, The Cheshire Cheese (a.k.a. ExpiredCheese), Alaster Boneman (even though I think you're often a bit harsh in your reviews of my stories, but that's okay too), lizzy74656, bellislefan, Chris926, Rono777, Dee474, Juddysbuddy, scwusa, StanaTorv, Teya (wonder if you're still out there on fanfiction), Djsmith, KristaPetal, and Laura Schiller (you wrote the first review of my first fanfiction story).
I also branched out a bit in the Star Trek universe with Archer/T'Pol stories and Pike/Number One stories, as well as recently with a number of short pieces adding two minutes onto the end of certain science fiction movies I like. It has all been great fun. For my A/TP stories, I'd like to add thanking cate, donsamb, dennisud, deepdiver, LoErneBraska, gammara, rita, aria1210, and gafling.
All the best to all of you.
P.S. In one of my previous postings I detailed the story history of the C/7 fandom as chronicled in The Commander and The Borg. Here is an updated list as best as I can figure. The 50 C/7 fanfiction writers are (in order of first published story) – Raven12 (9), SpacedOutAnna (1), Ananke (4), Teya (8), Layla-V (3), Monomania (1), Djinn1 (1), Meddie (1), angeldream (1), Brenda Scafter-Shiring (3), DianeB (3), Gimpy1 (1), Listern (1), CaptainTmir (1), Christy Tortland (1), protejerinnocencia (2), Sehrezad (5), Anniexus (13), Pettie (1), Larua Schiller (20), hellfrz (2), scifiromance (81), DesinChild (2), lisac1965 (5), TheFoundersDaughter (2), tiamat100 (1), Sweetdeath04 (3), Mtwapa (3), Jedi Master Misty Sman-Esay (4), psychichusky (1), MahoganEffie (6), Teal06 (1), battlevalcyrie (4), XXDragons-ShadowXX (2), Khrom (1), Data01 (1), MissSarahG1 (2), NikkiB1973 (8), serenmawr (1), witah (1), The Cheshire Cheese (aka Expired Cheese) (15), seraphim2db (1), cojack (37), Alaster Boneman (1), KristaPetal (1), Keflavik319 (1), Soquilii (1), The Lady Mage (6), christinasesok (1), and Rule 23 (2)
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