Packell asked, 'What might your Earth be like today?'
Standing there on the Klemmer platform, Kathryn Janeway lost herself in
the quietly mesmerizing beauty of the Earth spring. The sight of the planet
regularly produced the effect on her. No longer could she look at the Earth
and not imagine, in her mind's eye, what was waiting far beneath the visible
atmosphere. Inside her head, she imagined all of the sights, the sounds, and
the smells of the Midwestern United States. In her imagination, she always
found herself standing on the typical front porch just off of the typical
three-to-four bedroom home residing in the typical little town in anywhere,
Indiana. The house she had grown up in had a porch much like the one on
inside her mind, and there was an old-fashioned porch swing, one made of
creaking, thin lumber and speckled in blistering white paint. 'The sun
always took its toll on that swing,' she thought. Then, in her imagination,
she watched herself approach and take a seat on the swing. She would begin
to rock ever so slowly, listening to the welcome patter of a light springtime
rain that was just starting to fall ...
'What?' she asked, still lost in thought.
'Earth?' she mumbled.
'Your home?' Packell explained. 'Your planet, Earth.'
'How might it look today?'
Realizing she had been daydreaming, Janeway mentally pulled herself back
'My apologies, prefect. You were asking about Earth? What would it look
like today?' She pursed her lips, running the permutations in her head. 'I
would imagine it's much the same as when I left it,' she surmised aloud.
'Much the way it's been for hundreds of years. Like you, my people build and
we build. My civilization has fought more than its fair share of world wars.
But ... Earth has always had a unique charm ... it's own subtle way of ...
braving the worst elements ... and surviving.'
Aulea complimented, 'Much like your crew.'
'You're too kind,' Janeway offered.
'Ah, your modesty is your most enduring trait, captain.' Packell nodded,
walking slowly around the platform to consider the world before him from more
than one vantagepoint. 'My Aulea speaks the truth. Your world must be a
strong planet, as your crew is a strong, brave people. Unfortunately, as
you've come to know, Besaria has not faired nearly as well.'
'Packell,' she began, 'you're starting over. Those Trakill who have
remained here are committed. They've come together, much as my crew had to
when we found ourselves transplanted into the Delta Quadrant. You've begun
anew. Under the circumstances, a better tomorrow might be the least of your
Silently, for the course of several minutes, the three of them considered
the planet spinning slowly before them.
Finally, Janeway ordered, 'Computer, eliminate the planet Earth from the
Immediately, the blue planet faded. The disappearing sphere gave way to
an expanse of limitless, glistened stars, shimmering in the dark night where
the big blue ball once hung. Together, the three observers shuffled their
way across the Klemmer Platform and sat on large stone benches lining the
edge of the building.
'Packell,' Janeway began, 'I have a confession to make. While I wanted
you and Aulea to see the image of my homeworld, I had an ulterior motive in
bringing you here today.'
Surprised, the Trakill leaned back, studying the Earthling's expression.
'What is it, captain?'
She grimaced. Dredging up the past was never an easy task, but dredging
up the memories of years and years of subjugation at the hands of a maniacal
shapeshifter couldn't be avoided ... at this point.
'The One,' she answered.
Packell's face lost all expression.
'I'm terribly sorry,' Janeway tried. 'The last thing I want to do is
bring up a topic that will produce the painful memories of your culture's
years of occupation. But ... I need to speak with you about him. Briefly, I
promise.' She suddenly reached up and tapped her comm badge. 'Mister Paris,
report to Holodeck Two.'
'On my way, captain,' she heard.
Visibly, Packell swallowed.
'Captain, we haven't considered the maniac since his demise.' Lifting
his head, the Trakill glanced across the starscape until he looked back into
Janeway's eyes. He sighed heavily. 'He is gone. His rule is over. He can
no longer harm any of us, captain. Ask what you need to know.'
Janeway nodded. 'The One had captured your neighbors,' she explained.
'Yes,' Packell agreed. 'The planet Gallen is not far from here. It only
made sense that the Borg Army would find them sooner or later. The
Gallenians were captured many, many years ago, while my father was very young
and his father held the ambassadorial post for the Trakill. The Gallenians
were on Besaria for far longer than I could ever know.
'And, what a brilliant people they are, captain! Why, they've traveled
space for centuries! One might say, it is their sole purpose in life! I
remember ... I had often heard it said, among their people, that the average
Gallen male reached maturity behind a pilot's console! They felt it their
duty to explore the vast reaches of outer space.'
He shrugged, an awkward gesture for a Trakill, due to their narrow
shoulders. 'Of course, my people respected their differing beliefs. We were
never enemies. We just ... evolved under different influences. The
Gallenians worshipped the stars, while the Trakill cherished the land. My
people knew that our future was more about building homes and harvesting land
on the world that our mighty Sonah provided.'
Janeway smiled at Packell's reference to the Trakill savior.
'To several of my officers, the Gallenians made reference of a
phenomenon,' Janeway continued. 'It's called ChannelSpace.' She leaned
forward, hopeful. 'It is my sincere desire ... actually, it's the hope of
every last man and woman aboard this ship that perhaps the Gallenians
might've imparted some of the secrets of ChannelSpace to you.'
'ChannelSpace,' Aulea said, nodding.
'You've heard of it?' Janeway asked.
Aulea nodded. 'While in the Palace, Packell probably did not hear much
of it. My post was in the Sciences Complex, near where your Lieutenant
Torres worked. ChannelSpace was the gossip of all pilots, captain.
Gallenian or otherwise.'
'Gossip?' Janeway asked, deflated. 'Then ... it's only a myth?'
'Oh, of the Essence, no!' Aulea relied. 'The Gallenian pilots discovered
ChannelSpace many, many years ago. It is quite real, captain! I assure you!'
'Did they ever tell you how to access it?' Janeway asked.
Frowning, Aulea admitted, 'Sadly, no. That knowledge rests in the minds
of only a few Gallenians, I would imagine. While the Borg showed no
immediate interest, I believe that the Gallenians feared that, one day, they
would be deprived of its use.
'Apparently, ChannelSpace was the prime reason why the Gallenians were so
successful at mapping sectors of space far, far away from here. If I
understood their gossip correctly,' she continued, 'there was very little a
pilot could do once captured in transit. Much like your transporter
technology, ChannelSpace is actually 'beaming' a ship across vast distances
through established teleportation conduits. While in transit, your
technology ... your ship's engines, its operating systems ... they would be
virtually useless, until you exited the conduit and re-materialized elsewhere
in the galaxy.'
The Holodeck arch appeared as the doors slid open, and Tom Paris entered
the room, walking over to the marble table around which the group sat.
'Aulea's right, captain,' Packell assured her. 'In the palace, I
would've heard very little about such things. But I can tell you, among the
Gallenians, ChannelSpace is rumored to have existed for thousands of your
Earth years. If I have the mythology correct, ChannelSpace is the product of
'The Dia'Soto?' Janeway asked.
'Their species name,' Aulea assured the captain. 'But, informally,
they've been known as the Moderators for ages.'
'The Moderators?' Janeway asked.
Pleased, Aulea nodded.
'And ... just what exactly do they ... moderate?'
Taking a seat at the table, Tom offered, 'I hope I'm not interrupting
'Not at all, Tom.' Janeway reached out toward Packell and his lifemate.
'Prefect, I believe you've met my helmsman, Mr. Paris.'
'We were just sharing some of the known history regarding ChannelSpace,'
the captain offered. 'Packell and Aulea have been very gracious hosts while
we've visited their planet. They've seen to it that Mr. Neelix work with
some of the local agrarians to supply Voyager with enough fresh fruit and
vegetables to last us for quite some time on our journey.' Janeway turned
and glanced directly at Tom. 'On the topic of a free and impartial exchange
of information, I think it's our turn.'
'Captain?' Packell asked.
Janeway nodded. 'It's time for us to reciprocate some of what we know,
Packell. Keep in mind that some of this might be mere speculation, but I
think it's important that you, in your position as prefect of your people,
are made aware of what we know. I've had Mr. Paris prepare some information
for us all to consider. I think ... it might be of particular interest to
Packell glanced at his lifemate. She shrugged her reply.
'What is it, captain?'
Tom brought up a PADD he had been holding at his side.
'Packell, Aulea,' he began, 'have I got a story for you.'