Chapter 2

With the meeting adjourned, Janeway promptly shot out of her seat and strode out the door of the building. She was energized and on a mission. She needed to locate Seven to enlist her help with some calculations. She breezed through the bustling town square that was filled with activity. In the distance, the skeletal wooden beams of new housing loomed. Another group of workers, both T'lojan and crew from Voyager, were hard at work digging trenches to improve the sewage system while others worked on installing additional power lines.

Despite the determined set of her shoulders, many paused to greet her. While she was impatient to return to her task, she spoke with each person, listening attentively to their concerns and suggestions.

Once she'd finally made it past the crowd, she picked up her pace, determined to get back to her task. If she was remembering correctly, Seven was working at the power plant, assisting with optimizing the electrical grid. She could've used her combadge to reach the young woman, but Janeway hoped the two of them would spend the afternoon engrossed in calculations. Besides, she was enjoying the feel of the sun on her face and the adrenaline rush of renewed purpose as she traversed the settlement.

Nearing the western edge of town, she saw massive gardens tended by multiple T'Lojan and Voyager crew members. And the powerplant.

"Kathryn, can we talk?"

She'd been so caught up in her thoughts, she hadn't noticed Chakotay was behind her.

"Of course." She continued to walk at a brisk pace, still contemplating what they'd discussed at their leadership meeting. She was eager to implement the plan.

He grabbed her arm, forcing her to stop. It was still odd seeing him in clothing other than a Starfleet uniform. He wore tan pants, a white shirt and a brown vest.

"Why are you doing this?" He asked.

"What do you mean?"

"You don't need to lead anymore. You need a break. No one would think less of you. You've been through a lot these past seven years."

She'd been concerned about the toll those years had taken on her as well.

"I know. We all have. It's just who I am. I could say the same about you." She gently teased.

Realizing that he was fighting a losing battle, he shifted gears. "You realize we already performed orbital scans for gallicite and the results were negative."

"Of course. But those scans are not always accurate. J'var claims he noticed a metallic sheen when they flew a shuttlecraft over the southern hemisphere of the planet. You know that can be a sign that gallicite is present. It sounds promising. B'Elanna says if we modulate the scanners, we could increase the sensitivity and get better information. I'm sure Seven could help with this. This could be it!"

She grabbed both of his hands with hers.

"This could be what we need to repair our warp drive." Her face was flushed with excitement. "Once we complete the calculations, it'll be easy to modify the scanners then use one of the shuttles to check it out."

She'd been arguing this point rather vehemently during their leadership meeting with the T'lojans. She'd been puzzled that Chakotay wasn't more enthusiastic about this project.

Sometimes she felt a little annoyed that he seemed to accept the version of the future as presented by their visions as established fact.

"Do you think that's the highest priority?" he asked.

"What do you mean?"

Of course, it was. How could he even ask such a question? Keeping Voyager fully operational was what she'd lived for these past years. It was her life blood.

More thoughtfully, he asked, "What do you think the T'lojans' priorities are? They've just had over two hundred fifty people join them, effectively doubling the size of their colony."

That was Chakotay's not so subtle way of reminding her that while she was participating in leadership, she was no longer the ultimate authority. That her goals weren't necessarily the main priority anymore.

She sighed, remembering all the activity she'd witnessed just now.

"Food. Shelter. Clean water. Sanitation. Adequate power supply."

"With limited fuel, manpower and time, is that type of mission the best way to manage resources?"

"But it would only take a few hours to tinker with the sensors! How can we let this opportunity slip away?" She tried to convince him.

"Okay. What if it works? What if you find this source of gallicite? Then what?"

Wasn't it obvious? They'd mine and refine it and then fix the warp drive. Then they'd start their trip back to the Alpha Quadrant where they belonged. While she genuinely liked the T'lojans and appreciated their generosity and their hospitality, she still had a mission to accomplish. She wasn't about to let a vision dictate her future.

"Do you think the war is over?" he asked.

That took the air out of her sails. In her excitement, she hadn't thought that far ahead. While they were no longer in the direct path, it was still a major factor. Even with a functional warp drive, they had no idea where the boundaries of the conflict between multiple alien races in this quadrant lay.

And they'd already seen that they were outgunned and wouldn't survive on their own.

Chakotay thought he was being so clever as he held her gaze. He wouldn't come out and say it. He wanted her to acknowledge it on her own. As much as she wanted to justify her proposed project, she couldn't.

"I guess not." She conceded, her shoulders slumped, her voice more sullen.

She wondered why no one had brought up these objections during the meeting. Admittedly the details of her plan had been sketchy, but she'd only just learned of J'var's findings minutes before they'd started.

Then she realized that in her zeal, she'd hijacked the meeting. She hadn't allowed anyone to object. Someone must've approached Chakotay afterwards and asked him to speak with her.

She was being handled.

She didn't appreciate that.

Yet, her indignation quickly faded as she realized that she deserved it. As Chakotay had reminded her, over the course of their journey through the Delta Quadrant, she'd become so fixated on her goals, that she'd sometimes turned a blind eye to others. She wasn't proud of that. She didn't like the person she'd been becoming.

She averted her eyes acknowledging the temporary setback.

He reached for her hand and squeezed it to reassure her.

"You've been through a lot, Kathryn. It's going to take some time to recover. I'm not saying it's not worth investigating. It's just not the right timing. That's all."