Disclaimer: TPTB own all the mythological creatures originally created by the Great Bird. We, however, are like the Great Homer in that we ask our muse to help us tell the story of the woman who wandered full many ways ...
I'd like to dedicate this story to my teacher of the Greek and Latin, Mrs van Eldik. Even though she'll never read this story, she has been responsible for my grasp of the classical age and its literature. Inspiration: a poem my aunt sent me. It's only a short piece, but I hope you enjoy it anyway.
Ithaka - C. Kavafis
As you set out for Ithaka hope the voyage is long, full of adventure, full of discovery.
Hope the voyage is a long one.
Keep Ithaka always in your mind.
Arriving there is what you’re destined for.
But don’t hurry the journey at all.
Better if it lasts for years,
so you’re old by the time you reach the island,
wealthy with all you’ve gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaka to make you rich.
Ithaka gave you the marvelous journey.
Without her you wouldn't have set out.
She has nothing left to give you now.
And if you find her poor, Ithaka won’t have fooled you.
Wise as you will have become, so full of experience,
you’ll have understood by then what these Ithakas mean.
* ~ * ~ *
She sighed as she saw the blue orb from her window. She had never imagined her to be so beautiful, and yet it seemed as if the globe could not bring her the peace she had been looking for all these years. Her sister had finally reached her an hour ago, and she had been shocked to realise that she too had aged. It had taken them 30 years in the end to come home. Home, she thought, funny, all these years, they had told the crew that they were going 'home', and now, looking at home ...
Anna had stopped by earlier, sensing her mother's unease. She was by far the most vocal of the new generation of Voyager children, and had easy access to its Captain. Officially, she was not the ship's Captain anymore, she hadn't been for over 10 years. Anna had asked her if the kids, as they were still called, could have a private word with her. She told her daughter that she would meet them in the nursery. Over the last 20 years, the ship's population had almost tripled. It was something she and Chakotay had been afraid of when they first made the fraternisation policy, but now it seemed as if the ship had originally been made to be slightly cramped. Two of her children still lived in their quarters, and hadn't asked for relocation yet.
Her door chimed again. This time her First Officer entered, or more correctly, her former First Officer. All those years ago, they decided to retire at the same time, and the ship was now under the excellent control of Captain Tuvok and Commander Paris. Some may have thought it was a strange combination, but the two men complimented each other. Over the years, many of the children had been subject to an adapted Starfleet training, and Kathryn was proud to call two of her three children Lieutenant. Her youngest was one of the trainees of the Doctor, and would be promoted to the field rank of Lieutenant j.g. this afternoon. There would be many promotions today. Starfleet had let them know that they would acknowledge all the field ranks given on this mission, and over the years Kathryn and Chakotay had made numerous reports on the possible promotions of various officers. They had never given them, because they realised that they would end up with a ship full of Captains. Even Harry Kim was still only a Lieutenant, but after today he would be a full Commander.
"What can I do for you, Commander."
It felt funny calling her husband by the rank they hadn't used for years. Ever since their retirement they both had assumed positions as teachers at their 'school'. Some of the little ones didn't even know that they were the original command team.
"Well, Captain, I received a memo from one of our Lieutenants asking me to escort the Captain to the nursery. When I replied saying that Tuvok probably didn't need an escort, the answer was simple: she meant you. So, here I am. Are you ready?""I think so. Anna was here earlier, but she didn't explain what this was all about."
"I guess we'll just see. Captain, it would a great honour if you would accompany me now to see what they want from us."
"Commander, I am indeed honoured."
* ~ * ~ *
The bridge crew looked up when the Ready Room doors opened again. It had been some years since Captain Janeway was last seen exiting the room. Tuvok had been its occupant all these years, but most still thought of it as her Ready Room.
When they arrived at the nursery, they found that the original senior crew had been assembled there. No one seemed to know what was going on, until a little girl bounced out of the room, only to take her grandmother by the hand and dragged her in.
"Come on, Nana, they're waiting for you."
"Katie dear, what is going on? Why are we here?"
"Nana, and everyone, you really have to go inside now!"
The girl proceeded to try to push them all inside, and after a while she accomplished the task. B'Elanna moved over to Kathryn.
"I can see where she got her personality from, all we need now is a 'hands on the hips' pose, and the command 'take us in, Mr Paris'."
The two women laughed, but after a telltale look from Katie sat down in their seats.
* ~ * ~ *
The room had been arranged to resemble a small theatre. The curtain was still closed.
Katie stood in front of it, looking really nervous. When she heard the first notes of the music, she stepped forward and handed her grandmother a sheet of paper.
"Nana, today we have finally reached Home. To remember this day, we, the kids, wanted to give you and Aba and the others something. We couldn't think of a gift, because mommy once told us that you already had everything you wanted, so we decided on giving you a story. So, sit back and enjoy." She hugged her grandparents and went backstage.
* ~ * ~ *
For the next hour or so, they were treated to a rendition of their 30-year voyage. When it was over, Katie ran over to her grandmother again.
"Okay, Nana, I hope you haven't read the paper yet, because there is more people who want to say something to all of you."
She sat down on her Nana's lap, and was already giggling when her parents came on stage to replay some of the more memorable scenes between the Captain and the Commander.
In the end the adult children of Voyager had given them their version of the voyage, and Thomas Kim had ended the show with a poem, dedicated to their Captain Kathryn Janeway and the original crew.
* ~ * ~ *
That night as they went to bed, Kathryn could not help but cry. Chakotay had been expecting her to break down all day, but he realised that he should have known that she would not cry in front of the crew. When he had calmed her down, she started to tell about the thoughts that had been running through her head all day, and how she only now saw the truth in the poem Thomas had read.
"You know, Chakotay, our journey has been long, too long some would say, but it has been a great adventure, hasn't it? I mean, all the peoples we have encountered, all the worlds we have seen, all the enemies we have made ... all the love we have found. I don't know, it just made realise that we have all changed so much. Can you still remember the 'early' me? I hope not. I was so strict and concerned about protocol."
Chakotay hugged her tighter, somehow he had a feeling where this conversation was leading. Kathryn was once again trying to feel guilty over keeping him at bay all those years ago. He had already told her numerous times that he did not want her to feel this way, but he also acknowledged the fact that his Kathryn needed this guilt trip occasionally. He had told her once and he had made a promise to himself never to tell her again, because she had made him sleep on the couch for a week. So now, he just sat on their bed, cradling his wife, and listening to her talk.
"I know what you're going to say, Chakotay. But please, let me finish this. I want you to know that I am glad that you waited for me. I love you."
"I love you too, Captain Kathryn Janeway. And I'll let you have your moment of guilt. As long as you don't start raging about the fact that it is all your fault that we got stuck in the Delta Quadrant in the first place, deal?"
"Deal. Phoebe contacted me today. I can't believe how old she looks, but I guess she was pretty shocked when she saw me. She told me that Starfleet is organising this huge welcome home party, but they're not sure where to put us."
"What do you mean?"
"Well, they've reserved all the rooms at the Grand Hotel, where the party will be, but I don't think they realised that most of the children only live with their parents because we don't have the extra space. She told me that they had put Paka and Lisa in our room. Luckily she also told me that she had told them to contact us, and that we would give them the current status of our families. Maybe Paka and Lisa wouldn't mind sharing, but I for one want to be alone with my husband, don't you agree?"
He didn't answer her, because he had already started to slowly undress her. Kathryn was unbuttoning his shirt, as his commbadge beeped.
"Tuvok to Chakotay."
The look Kathryn shot her husband was one of mercy. Somehow, Tuvok had managed to disturb them more times than they'd care to remember.
"Go ahead Tuvok."
"Is the Captain there with you?"
"Of course, Kathryn is here with me, where else should she be?"
"Her commbadge isn't working. Captain, the crew was wondering if you and the Commander would join us on the Bridge tomorrow at 0800."
"Tuvok, we'll be there. Janeway out. Now, where were we?"
* ~ * ~ *
The next morning all senior crewmembers were assembled on the Bridge. All the present senior officers had handed back their command to the original officers, and once again Captain Janeway commanded the ship - her ship. Even though she had tried to share the ship with the crew, they still regarded Voyager as hers.
"Mr Kim, open a ship wide channel. We are approaching Earth: we are home. I want you all to know how privileged I feel over having served with you all these years. Not only are you a crew I have served with longest, no comment please Mr Paris, but you are also the finest crew in either quadrant of the universe. Young Mr Kim read us a poem last night, which is very true to our unique situation.
"Keep Ithaka always in your thoughts. Your arrival is your destiny. But don't ever hurry the journey." When we arrive on Earth, things will be very hectic. They are already planning a large party for us. For some this may not be the homecoming they had anticipated, and for others this will be a homecoming to a home they have never known. I am proud to call you my family, and to be a part of this family of Voyageurs: remember, Voyager will always be our home, and she will always welcome all her family members. Janeway out.
"Captain, Starfleet is hailing us. We have permission to land."
"Mr Paris, think you can still do it?"
"Of course, Ma'am!"
"Then please, set course for Earth. Code blue."
"Course set, Captain."
"Let's go, and take us in, Mr Paris!"
Okay, so it's only a short story. The poem by C. Kavafis is truly beautiful, and I think that it sort of fits Voyager's journey.