Chapter 3: A new beginning

********

Back in Admiral Hayes’s office.

“Good Afternoon sir. Sorry about that.” Janeway greeted. The Admiral pulled up a chair for her and motioned for her to sit.

“That’s alright Captain, I can see that you have a lot of respect for Magnus. A beverage Captain?” the Admiral offered. It was very rare for the Admiral to get drinks for his subordinates. He only did so for those that he liked and respected.

“Coffee please, thank you. Admiral, Professor Magnus has been instrumental in developing technology to fight against the Borg.. ”

The Admiral walked to the replicator, “Coffee, Black.” He commanded, it materialized and he took it to her. “Kathryn. It’s good to see you. How are you coping?” He asked with concern as he didn’t like the thought of any of his officers having low morale.

Kathryn sipped on her coffee and managed a quick smile and said, “I’m managing well. Thank you for asking sir.” She felt guilty lying. She had taken the loss of her ship, the USS Bonestell pretty hard. She had resorted to drinking spirits trying to forget the tragedy.

Admiral Hayes saw through her mask and nodded. There was no fooling him, “Kathryn, I know you’ve been wanting to get back up there.” he gestured upwards. Our resources are spread pretty thin especially after what happened at Wolf359 and now the Maquis situation, we just can’t spare the ships.”

She sighed silently. The Borg had destroyed her ship and she had run away. If Tuvok hadn’t masked their life signs in the escape pod, who knows what might have happened.

“Admiral, I respect any decision that Starfleet makes. I need to get back up there. I’ve been stuck here for far too long..” She said folding her arms. She recalled spending most of her time in the academy’s training holodecks, commanding starships with some of the Academy’s brightest cadets in historical battles and diplomatic missions. She needed herself to be at her best if she were ever given a command again.

The Admiral leaned back against his chair and looked at her pensively, “You’re still blaming Admiral Hanson.. He had a call to make and he made it. It’s just unfortunate that your ship wasn’t in the right place at the right time. In fact, Starfleet has only recently recalled all ships on deep space assignment. Including all Oberth-class vessels. They will be deployed to the front line if need be.”

Captain Janeway frowned. “Does Starfleet intend to deploy the Oberth class as combat vessels? They were designed as exploratory science vessels with only Type IV phasers that hardly scratch hull plating.” Her face dropped as the realization came to her. “You’re using them as cannon fodder, decoys!”

The Admiral shook his head in disapproval of her paranoia. He suddenly doubted that the Admiralty had made the right decision. He brushed away the thought and stood up from his chair.

“Don’t worry Captain, we’re not butchers. Starfleet has other plans for them. Actually, I summoned you here for another reason. I wanted you to give me your comments on this.” The Admiral walked over to the wall view screen and entered a few commands, “Starfleet wants every Captain to be familiar with it.” A ship schematic appeared. It was unlike any design she had ever seen, clearly much more functional looking than her own ship. But what were its capabilities? The Admiral was about to answer her questions.

Admiral Hayes proudly started his presentation.

“Allow me to present to you the ‘Intrepid’ class starship. A deep space exploratory vessel primarily designed to take over the duties of the Galaxy class cruiser and other science vessels, the Oberth class for instance, while freeing the Galaxy class to perform more ‘dangerous’ missions.” Admiral Hayes punched a few more buttons into the console. Kathryn looked on. She had heard that Starfleet was about to introduce a new ship class but never thought much of it.

“It has fifteen percent volume of the Galaxy class with a crew complement of one hundred and fifty. But don’t let size fool you Kathryn, the ship’s computer is the most advanced model ever deployed and has a defensive weapons complement of thirteen Type XIII phasers. It’s increased automation combined with a new generation of sensor equipment would allow the Intrepid class an overall increase of thirty percent of the scanning and analysis capabilities of a Galaxy class starship. In essence, it is the start of a new generation of deep space exploration or so to speak.” The Admiral said proudly and handed Kathryn an information PADD.

Kathryn took the PADD and looked it over, it was the entire schematics of the ship, “Interesting.. and how many vessels are in service?”

“Just the one, Kathryn. The USS Intrepid. Starfleet therefore has decided to launch its second Intrepid class into service. Admiral Patterson will be overseeing its’ launch.” Admiral Hayes said as he sat back down at his desk.

Kathryn looked hard at the Admiral, she needed more answers than what he was giving her. “Has it been designed with the Borg in mind?”

He shook his head, “Not really. We’ve not detected any Borg activity for three years now. Starfleet has deemed that the Borg threat has reduced to a level, which would allow the Intrepid class to enter service without any renewed offensive. Although I’m not at liberty to tell you, we have another ship design specifically intended to be able to fight the Borg. But we’ll let you know more when the time comes.”

It sounded ludicrous to her. Why would Starfleet launch ships that can’t counter the Borg? The Admiral noticed her doubtful face and continued,

“Don’t worry Kathryn, the ship is only intended for deep space tactical exploratory missions. When it comes to the Borg, we probably won’t bother you. Unless we’re really in a fix.” The Admiral said half-jokingly, trying to lighten the mood.

“Well, I hope that new anti-Borg ship will be launched soon.” She said in high hopes. She didn’t want Starfleet to let its guard down any longer than need be. “I believe you’ve already found a Captain for this Intrepid class ship?” She asked innocently not wanting to sound desperate.

The Admiral put on a straight and serious face, not wanting to show any emotions and continued, “We’ve reviewed the fitness reports of over fifty Starfleet Captains who are more than capable and I believe we’ve already found one.” The Admiral just stared at her blankly.

“Oh..” She studied his face and her heart dropped. The Admiral’s face told her that she was not chosen. She was disappointed and tried to maintain her composure.

“Who has Starfleet selected?” She asked, as she looked longingly at the ship on display. She did not notice the smile growing on Admiral Hayes’s face.

“They’ve chosen Captain..” Admiral Hayes pressed a few buttons on his console, clearly intending to increase the suspense. “.. Kathryn Janeway to take command of the new vessel.”

Kathryn’s head snapped back and she saw the Admiral smiling and her profile appeared on the wall screen. She was speechless. The Admiral continued,

“You will attend it’s christening in 6 months at the Utopia Planitia dry docks. And make sure you study the ship’s info I’ve given you. It also has list of your new command staff. ” He droned on.

“Thank you sir. I thought I would be stuck to a desk job after the loss of the Bonestell. Why me by the way?” She said. The Admiral’s head snapped up looking a bit irritated.

“Do you always have to question authority Captain? Very well, let’s just say that you’ve impressed the Admiralty five years ago during your first command assignment. I know Lt. Commander Tuvok was a little harsh on his analysis of your command performance but we believed you performed pretty well. You know Vulcans..” Admiral Hayes rolled his eyes.

Kathryn stifled a laugh. She did know Vulcans. He had been her Tactical Officer aboard the Bonestell for three years and he was posted to Jupiter station after it’s destruction. She had found it hard at first to adjust to his Vulcan emotionless and logical principles. But since then, he has been a close friend and a good listener. And has always been able to help her make difficult decisions just by sheer logic alone. She hoped to see him again soon.

“Anyway Kathryn, Starfleet has “punished” you enough by stranding you here for three years and decided to give you another chance. Make good use of it. You’re dismissed Captain and congratulations, we know you won’t disappoint us.” The Admiral motioned her towards the door.

“Aye aye sir.” Kathryn suppressed a smile as she walked out.

********

Their lunch concluded and her mother had to attend a meeting. Annika left the mess hall and she proceeded to the gardens. An hour to go before classes start. She strolled along the artificial river and breathed the fresh air. She started to admire the flowerbeds when she saw Joan sitting at a bench, peering intently at a PADD. Funny she thought. She didn’t think Joan was particularly hardworking, especially after lunch. And where was the ever so inquisitive crowd she had before she left her to go to the mess hall? Maybe they got tired of her she thought. She frowned at herself for being mean.

“Annika. Come on over here, what do you think of this?” Joan showed her the PADD. On it was a diagram of a 21st Century wedding dress. It was sleeveless and had a very low cut, which would show a lot of ‘chest’ for the wearer.

Annika took it, glanced at it for a second and then handed it back. “It’s nice..”

“That’s it Annika? It’s nice..? That’s all you can say?” Joan punched up another diagram. “What about this then?” It displayed another dress, this time, it had sleeves and had a turtle neck. It looked more like winter wear.

Annika cannot believe it. Was her friend dense? She wasn’t interested at all. But she decided to indulge Joan and play along. She didn’t want to hurt her feelings. Annika closed her eyes for a bit and recalled a holo character that her mother told her was her favorite childhood character.

“Don’t tell me you’ve fallen asleep Anni!? Please Anni, be a sport.” Joan said, she was upset that her friend wasn’t paying attention.

Annika took the PADD, “I think I’ve got just the perfect wedding dress,” She punched in a few commands and handed it to Joan.

She took it excitedly, like a child about to receive her first toy. “Err.. Annika. This dress doesn’t look like anything I’ve seen before in the database. Why is it purple and why does it look suspiciously like a lizard?” She looked up Anni and looked down again. “Which human culture uses this wedding dress?” Annika’s eyes were wide opened. Didn’t she see the joke she pulled?

“I don’t like it.” And Joan entered a new set of parameters. Annika rolled her eyes and decided to keep the matter quiet. No need to let her know anything.

Annika found the entire activity frivolous. But when she thought about it. She felt pretty bad. What if she was the one getting married? She didn’t want Joan to act as she did now. She shook her head.. She is only 20 and Joan is already 22. Too young.. too young to even think about marriage. She recalled what her parents told her.

“No boys until you’re old enough Anni.” They both had said.

She still wondered. What did they mean by that? Old enough in the mind? Or in the body? She rubbed her temple. Her head hurt. Was she ready? No she wasn’t. No, she is ready. I’m not ready! Ready for what? She wondered. She recalled all the advances made by some of the boys in the Academy. The ‘I love you Annika’ and ‘Annika, you are my destiny’ notes she got in abundance during her freshman year. But she had pushed all of them aside. One by one.. except Tomas. Tomas? You’re a fool.. he wanted to see my chest. And I almost let him. No.. No! He was the one who advanced.. She looked around and saw Joan was gone. She saw a Borg drone in her place.. reaching out to her, “You will be assimilated.” It said. She held up her hand and shrieked.

“No no! Go away.”

“Annika, Annika, wake up Anni.” Joan said, shaking her friend’s shoulders. Annika opened her eyes and sat straight up with a gasp. She had fallen asleep at the bench.

“Who did you tell to go away Anni?” a concerned Joan asked.

“When did I fall asleep Joan?” She asked her friend sounding a little afraid.

“Anni.. you didn’t answer my que..” Joan said, her tone serious.

“When?!” Annika screamed at her friend.

“Calm down Anni. You fell asleep after I showed you this.” And Joan showed her the dress with the sleeves and turtleneck. “You dozed off after you closed your eyes. So I just let you sleep and continued browsing the catalogue of wedding dresses. Did you sleep well last night?” She asked, very concerned of her friend’s well being.

Annika pushed Joan away and she fell. She ran towards the Academy entrance.

Joan was on the ground, shocked at what her best friend had done. “Anni, Anni what’s wrong?” She shouted after her friend. But Annika was gone.

********

Meanwhile, in Magnus’ office.

Magnus was peering intently at the complex equations. “Emm..” He thought. And rubbed his eyes again. He went over to the replicator, “Coffee, black.” And then his combadge sounded. He tapped it.

“Professor, the Academy just called. They said that there’s something wrong with your daughter and she has disappeared from the premises. They believe she’s headed towards here, the office complex.” His secretary said.

“I’m on my way.” He immediately got up and headed towards the door.

“Perhaps there’s no need for that Professor..” And his office door opened. Annika was standing there. “.. because she’s already here.”

“Annika. What’s wrong?” He approached her, holding her in a tight embrace like any concerned father would.

Annika rested her head on Magnus’s shoulder. “Dad. I saw them.” She whispered. He was afraid of this. He knew that young children had better capability of keeping memory engrams. Their ability to recall them even eighty years ahead was astounding. Sometimes, these memories appeared as dreams. He thought perhaps Annika would take those memories to her grave. But he was mistaken. He held his daughter’s head and looked up into her eyes. He tapped his combadge.

“Marla. Inform the Academy that I can’t lecture the 2 o’clock class. Have them find a replacement. Also, reschedule my meeting with Chief O’Hara. And the Admiral’s meeting as well. Make up an apology note for the both of them.” Magnus said to his secretary, not once breaking eye contact with Annika.

“Thank you.. father.” Tears poured from her eyes as she realized her father wouldn’t leave her. Magnus’s heart was breaking.

“What does it all mean? These dreams.” Magnus gulped. He couldn’t possible tell her now. He thought about the meeting with Doctor Anderson earlier in the week.

********

“Use this, if she has another episode. It will make her sleep a little better” Anderson handed Magnus a hypospray. He quickly hid it in his pocket.

“Sleeping was what caused all these problems in the first place.” He whispered.

“It’s a neural inhibitor that targets the dream receptors in her brain and numbs them.” Anderson said, sounding scientific and guilty at the same time. “It’s a temporary solution. She won’t have dreams for a month at most. You may use it as often as necessary. For her entire lifetime if need be but you’ll have to tell her eventually Magnus.”

Magnus had actually wanted something that can delete memories, not dreams. But he didn’t want her to start forgetting things. Perhaps Anderson could devise something that can delete memories instead. But that would take too long. He had to settle for this in the meantime.

********

“Oh I’m sorry Anni.” He hugged her tightly. With one hand he reached into his pocket and took out the hypospray.

“Dad, I’m scared.” She looked down at her dad. He was clearly shorter than she was. Of course, she was six foot two inches. She felt embarrassed. I’m almost twenty-one and here I am, hugging my dad like a little kid. No wonder they still treat me like a child. But she could not help herself.

Magnus studied her face, her pointed jaw line, her perfectly oval eyes, her blue irises and her tied up blonde har. Oh my beautiful daughter. He thought. I’m so sorry. Magnus put his hand behind her daughter’s head and pressed the hypospray against the back of her neck.

The effect was immediate. Annika crumpled like a ragged doll into his arms. He slowly put his hands under her neck and the back of her knees and lifted her up, her head resting on his shoulder. She snored. Amazing, her daughter felt pretty light. About one hundred and forty-five pounds he estimated. All of those exercises, and beauty regiments she called diets must have worked. He walked over to the couch and ever so gently, laid her legs first and bent them at the knees since the couch was small, then he held her body and slowly, laid it back against the cushion, and then he sat down, slowly placing her head and right hand on his lap and left hand on the cushion. He sighed and tapped the combadge.

“Marla, inform the Academy that my daughter is fine. She’s asleep. And she’ll be in my office for the rest of the day. Inform my wife as well. And no visitors. Turn them away. Is that clear?” He said to Marla, his voice a little raspy.

“Yes sir. Of course.” Marla said with a tone of understanding in her voice. She had probably heard Annika snore.

Magnus looked at chronometer. It was 1:45pm. Perhaps he can take a little afternoon nap and he closed his eyes and laid back against the couch. His left hand on the armrest and his right hand on Annika. And soon he was snoring.

********

Chapter 4 will be posted in a few days. In the meantime, do enjoy these Star Trek books.