Disclaimer: Still all Paramount’s .

Rating:  PG

Notes: This is a sequel to “The Last Night” which really should be read first in order for this story to make any sense.

                                       THE FIRST DAY

By Mary S.

           Voyager’s captain sat on a bench in the gardens surrounding Starfleet Headquarters.  Her head was back, eyes closed, posture at ease.  It felt so good to be able to sit quietly, and just enjoy the warmth of the sun.  And not just any sun, but the one under which she had been born – her sun, Earth’s sun.  Home.

           She was also enjoying the silence.  For once, the media hounds hadn’t found her, not yet anyway.  She looked over at the main doors of headquarters.  Still closed, just a few people scurrying about, perfectly normal.  Nothing yet.  She let her attention drift as she reflected on the events of the last three weeks – since her ship had returned to the Alpha Quadrant.

           At first, it had been one neverending welcome home party.  Speeches, parades, special ceremonies to honour her and her crew, awards, more speeches by all and sundry, or so it seemed.  That had lasted a week before Starfleet got down to brass tacks.

           The Maquis, all of them, would face charges of insurrection, treason, theft, attacking Federation vessels, attacking allies of the Federation, i.e. Cardassia – the indictment went on and on.  Voyager’s crew swung into action.

           On the day the Maquis were formally arraigned, the courtroom was packed.  As each name was read out, and the accused told to step forward, three crewmates went, too.  By the time the court official had finished, one hundred and forty seven people stood jampacked together before the bench.  The chief justice looked very stern.

           “Who speaks for this – group?” she snapped.

           Kathryn Janeway stepped forward.  “I do, Your Honour.”

           “Who are you?”

           She lifted her head to look the judge straight in the eye.  “Captain Kathryn Janeway of the starship Voyager.”  Never had her voice sounded more proud.

           Madam justice contemplated her.  “And these?” waving her hand to encompass everyone else.

           “My crew.”

           “I see.  Perhaps you will be kind enough to explain the meaning of this….” her hand waved again “demonstration.”

           “All these people together form my crew, Voyager’s crew.  We stand together – as one.”

           “And you, all of you, are willing to suffer whatever punishment the court sees fit to exact?”  

           “There has been no trial yet, Your Honour.  The last time I set foot in the Federation, every accused was deemed innocent until proven guilty.  Has that changed?”

           She looked the picture of innocence but madam justice wasn’t fooled.  She sat silent, thinking, before abruptly rising to her feet.

           “I am calling a short recess.  Court will resume in – twenty minutes.”  And she disappeared into the judicial chambers.

           Immediately, an excited babble rose as everyone exclaimed over the actions of the crew.  Various media people hurried to and fro as this latest development was flashed to all the news services.  Even as they rushed out the door, armed security personnel poured in until they lined the back and sides of the room.

           Chakotay spoke quickly.  “Kathryn, I don’t like the look of this.  Get out, get all our people out.  Please.”

           “No, Chakotay, we won’t abandon you.”

           “You’re not ‘abandoning’ me, Kathryn, you’ve made your point.  I don’t want anyone hurt.”

           “We just have to hang on.  They’re bluffing, trying to scare us.  Well, it won’t work!”

           Chakotay rolled his eyes and glanced at Tuvok.  He nodded in silent agreement.  Threatening Kathryn Janeway was akin to waving a red flag in front of a bull.  She would charge head on every time.

           “Tuvok,” he pleaded.  “Try to talk some sense into her.”

           “Commander, you know how little good that will do.  I think we will have to wait and see what happens next.”

           They didn’t have to wait long.  The chief justice returned to the bench, banged her gavel for quiet and pronounced her decision.  Much as she could appreciate the gallant stance of Voyager’s crew, procedure must be followed.  Therefore, she was ordering that the courtroom be cleared.  Only the accused – those whose names had been read out, she added – and their several counsels plus court officials would be permitted to remain.   All others would leave – now.  She glanced around the room, making her point, before looking directly at Janeway.
           The crew hesitated; the guards stepped forward, hands on phasers.  The meaning was clear.  Janeway sighed, took Chakotay’s hands and squeezed them before raising them to her mouth and kissing them.

           “This is not over, I promise you.”

           He nodded.  “Thank you, all of you.  No matter what happens, none of us will forget what you’ve done.  Now Captain, it’s time for you to go.”  And he kissed her hands as well, then turned to face the judge.

           Janeway jerked her head, and all the non-Maquis in her crew filed out of the room behind her, heads high. 

           Madam justice permitted herself a small smile of satisfaction.  However, if she could have witnessed the pandemonium outside the building, she might have been less pleased.

           Media swarmed around the crew who explained just why they had been told to leave.  Starfleet Security attempted to put a stop to the impromptu news conference by simply separating anyone in uniform from those in civilian dress.  The result was inevitable.   That night, the lead story on every newscast in the Federation showed six-year old Naomi Wildman being dragged screaming from her mother while the newscaster explained in excruciating detail just what had occurred.

           The admiralty was livid, but it was too late.  Public opinion, heretofore indifferent to the Maquis, now came down heavily in their favour.  Editorials quite properly pointed out that Voyager’s crew seemed to be swinging on a pendulum.  One week they were all being feted as long lost heroes, the next some were on trial for treason, while children of others were forcibly parted from their parents, whose only crime, seemingly, was belonging to Starfleet.  Perhaps the Federation Council would care to explain these contradictory actions.  In full detail.

           Janeway chuckled to herself as she remembered how headquarters, obviously under orders from the Council, had backed off with almost indecent haste.  Nechayev herself had issued an apology on behalf of Starfleet.  When Chakotay proposed his solution, that he alone be charged, the admiralty quickly agreed.  Within two days, all the Maquis but him were released from custody with full pardons.

           She had protested vehemently that he should be included, but by then, Starfleet had sidetracked her with extensive and very long debriefings.  She was unable to keep track of what was happening to him, which led her back to today.

           The admirals had finished quite early, in midmorning, with the comment that she was free until further notice, but could expect to be recalled.  She hurried out, anxious to get news of Chakotay, and found Tuvok waiting for her.  They would know the court’s decision soon, he told her, on whether the commander would have to stand trial.

           She had started towards the courtroom, but halted at Tuvok’s suggestion that she wait outside instead.  She looked at him questioningly.

           “You do not, in any way, want to jeopardize the verdict, Captain.  Go to the gardens.  I will wait by the door near the courtroom.”  She had found this bench.

           She gazed at the doors again.  Still nothing.  Her mind went back to the events of the last ten days.

           Voyager’s tale had come out, not all at once, but in bits and pieces.  And one of the first bits was the story of the last night on the ship, when the entire crew had spontaneously declared themselves one.  The media was captivated by this tidbit, especially since it had such a direct bearing on what happened after.  Interviews were conducted with any one who would talk.

           Starfleet had very quickly ordered the crew to remain silent, but Neelix was not a member of Starfleet – the admirals had no control over him.  He became the de facto spokesman for Voyager, a position he adopted with gusto.  Very soon, his face was showing up everywhere as he expounded on his wonderful crewmates, especially the captain and commander.

           When Nechayev personally called him to task in her usual arrogant manner, he responded by reminding her that he was the official Ambassador of the Delta Quadrant, and, as such, expected to receive the respect due his position.  He then gave her a quite credible imitation of the captain’s glare.  He had not spent seven years with Kathryn Janeway for nothing.

           Public opinion, already favourable, became even more sympathetic.  The general feeling was that the Maquis no longer posed a threat.  Indeed, many of those imprisoned had been paroled since the war had ended and the full extent of Cardassian atrocities had become known.  Starfleet was aware, more than ever, that they had made several public relations gaffes lately.  It behooved them not to make any more.

           Janeway came back to the present with a start.  A commotion in the distance caught her attention.  People were running towards the main doors.  She stood, trying to see  what was going on, then started to walk quickly towards them.

           As she began to move, the doors flung open and Chakotay burst through, Tuvok right behind him.  He paused, obviously looking for her, a huge smile plastered all over his face.  She broke into a run, flying past everyone else.  Could it be?  Was it possible?  Her heart thundered.

           “Chakotay!” she shouted.

           He turned at her voice, then strode forward to catch her up in his arms and swing her around.

           “I’m free, Kathryn!”  he cried out in glee.  “Unconditional pardon!”

           She choked back a sob, and wrapped her arms around his neck and shoulders, hugging him as hard as she could.  Try as she might, she couldn’t stop tears of joy from running down her cheeks.  She turned her face into his neck and wept unabashedly.  He held her tight, his face buried in her hair. 

           Lost in each other, both were quite oblivious to the sea of reporters and cameras which completely engulfed them.

           “Do you know what today is?” he whispered in her ear.

           She lifted her head to look at him, then shook it, her face a question.  He wiped her damp cheeks with gentle fingers, then bent to kiss her gently.

           “The first day …. of the rest of our lives.”

           She gave him a heartstopping smile, full of promise, and nodded.  “Yes.”

            THE END