Star Trek: Voyager - The Neverending Night

Chapter 15

Janeway observed the battle unfolding outside the station as best she could. When she saw that Voyager had disabled the Krebor, she was overcome with relief. Whatever happened to her, at least Voyager would make it out of the Void in one piece. Now there was only one thing left to do. Seven had estimated that it would take between five and ten minutes for the station to be destroyed once the final command sequence was entered. Janeway calculated that there should be enough leeway to get to the shuttle and fly through the vortex before it collapsed. In theory anyway.

Janeway stepped over to the main control console and set the tricorder down on top of it. She pulled up Seven’s final command sequence. Just as she was about to execute it, a flash of movement out of the corner of her eye caught her attention. She turned just in time to see Valen take aim at her with his hand phaser from the level above her. Janeway leapt out of the way, just in time to dodge the phaser blast. The yellow beam carved into the control panel, splitting it open in a smouldering ruin.

Janeway ran for cover, unslinging the compression phaser rifle from her back. “I’m sorry, were you aiming for me?” She mocked.

“You’re a stubborn woman, Captain.” Valen said back, shifting his position on the level above. “Your ship will never make it out of the Void and neither will you. Come out and I’ll give you a quick death.”

Janeway continued to shift position, weaving through the exposed conduits on the sides of the complex while watching carefully for any signs of movement above. “I’m afraid I’ll have to pass on that offer. Besides, from what I saw, it’s your ship that isn’t making it out of here, not mine. How does it feel to be on the losing side?”

“I haven’t lost yet.” Valen replied. “Your little experiment in diplomacy was a spectacular failure. So too will be the final moments of your life.”

“Call it what you will.” Janeway said. “But we made it further than you did preying upon defenseless ships and crews.”

“Survival of the fittest is the only universal law.” Valen said before taking a quick shot in Janeway’s direction with his phaser, just barely missing her shoulder. “Those who are strong enough will emerge from the crop, and leave the weak to be culled. Your Alliance only proves my point. Voyager was weak. Once I proved that to the others, they all turned on you with dispatch.”

“You and your Malon friend coerced them.” Janeway shot back. “With lies and half truths. The only thing that proves is your own selfish nature. You only used them to get what you wanted, you never intended to genuinely help them.”

“And what of it?” Valen asked. “If they were desperate enough to abandon you at a moment’s notice, were they ever truly your allies to begin with? Only a fool unquestionably places their life in the hands of another. Their wellbeing was never my concern, I have no misgivings about sacrificing their lives. ”

Janeway ducked into cover once more. In a face to face confrontation, she would never stand a chance against Valen. She needed an edge. Suddenly, she saw the side of Valen’s face in one of the reflective panels. An idea occurred to her. Seven had said that the panels are total energy reflectors, did that include phaser blasts as well? Janeway took her time and aimed carefully at Valen through the reflection. She would only get one shot at this and she needed him to hold still. “No misgivings about sacrificing others, does that include your own crew?”

Valen didn’t respond at first, contemplating what Janeway meant by her question. “What about my crew?”

“You said you left them on the Caretaker’s Array.” Janeway recalled. “Did you even try to rescue them? Or did you just flip on your cloaking device and run away like a coward?”

Janeway could tell she had reopened a very old wound in Valen. “I could have saved them!” He thundered with furious rage. “Had my ship survived the journey to the Array, had those ignorant imputent Kazon cretins not interfered with me, I would have saved my crew and shredded that decrepit station, along with that senile old man, down to the last atom!”

Janeway had Valen right in her sights. “Sounds to me like you were too weak to save them.” She pulled the trigger. Several bolts of energy shot out from the phaser and ricocheted off the panel on the far side of the room. Had the blast been a direct shot, Valen wouldn’t have had time to react. However, he heard the blast right as the bolts were bouncing off the panel toward him. He ducked at the last moment, however the motion caused him to drop his hand phaser. It clattered to the ground and was sent hurtling down to the bottom of the complex.

Janeway shifted her position again and waited for any sign of movement from Valen. Instead, all she heard was laughter. “I will say this, Captain.” He started. “You are one of the more cunning opponents I have faced. It’s too bad I don’t have my Kotra set with me. I imagine it would be a very entertaining match.”

“Sorry to disappoint.” Janeway replied. “But boardgames never held my interest. I’m more of a phaser range type of gal.”

Just then, Janeway heard footsteps above her. She looked up just in time to see Valen vault off the top level. He came down right on top of Janeway before she could aim her phaser rifle. He leveraged his superior weight to shove Janeway to the ground. Janeway was unable to control the momentum of both the phaser rifle and her own body. The rifle flew out of her hands and went sailing off the side of the complex. Janeway quickly shot back up to her feet. But in these tight quarters, she knew she stood no chance.

Valen pressed his advantage as both the stronger fighter and a hand to hand combat specialist. He closed the distance to Janeway constantly. Without any room to maneuver left or right, Janeway was forced to backpedal. She had spoken to Chakotay enough times about his boxing experience to know that backpedaling against a frontal assault meant certain defeat. Valen struck Janeway with a series of calculated blows designed to keep her off balance. Janeway deflected as many as she could, but it was only a matter of time. She felt her back foot press up against the wall and Valen chose that moment to lunge forward. He seized Janeway by the throat and pressed her up against the wall.

“I know I promised you a quick death.” Valen taunted as he choked the life out of Janeway. “But I wish to savor this moment for as long as I can.”

Janeway kicked and struggled against Valen. But he had long since stopped caring about his own life. He knew he would die on this station, all that mattered now was taking Janeway with him. Valen’s chokehold on Janeway was absolute. She could feel the telltale signs of oxygen deprivation as the life left her body. First her movements became sluggish and weak. Then she felt tingling all over her skin. Her vision closed in from the sides. The last thing she saw was the expression of immense satisfaction on Valen’s face.

Suddenly, Valen released his grip. Janeway collapsed to the ground, rasping and wheezing as she drew in as deep of a breath as she could. She coughed uncontrollably for a few moments before regaining enough of her composure to turn to see what had happened. Valen was now flailing about side to side, struggling to maintain his balance. There was a figure on top of his back, which he was trying desperately to get off. At first Janeway didn’t recognize the figure, but then her eyes went wide when she saw who it was. Fantome had an iron grip on Valen’s back and was now clawing and striking at the Cardassian Gul from above.

Valen swung wildly, trying to free himself. But Fantome held on tight. Janeway seized the moment to withdraw her hand phaser from her belt. As she did, Valen drew a hidden knife from his boot. He plunged it directly into Fantomes side. Even though he had no vocal chords, the expression of agony on Fantomes face rang in Janeway’s mind as he began to spurt orange blood. Valen tossed Fantome to the ground. Janeway leveled the phaser at Valen and deactivated the safeties in one swift motion. She depressed the large button on the phaser handle and a bright orange beam of light erupted from the weapon.

Valen ducked to the side as the beam struck him. His shoulder was blasted away, leaving a smouldering gap of char and ash behind. Valen lunged for Janeway before she could fire another shot. He seized her wrist with his still functional arm and twisted it. Janeway cried out in pain. She involuntarily depressed the phaser trigger. Multiple orange blasts sailed up into the ceiling above, causing multiple explosions upon impact. The station shuddered violently, but Valen kept his grip. Alarms were blaring throughout the complex now, no doubt signaling that critical damage had been caused.

Valen twisted his hand causing Janeway to drop the phaser. “Pathetic.” Valen said. “All that phaser practice and you still missed. You see Captain, Cardassians are born to be predators. Humans were born to be prey.”

Janeway clenched her jaw in pain. “The thing about us prey, Valen, is that we tend to stick together.”

Just then, Fantome dove at Valen once more. But this time Fantome struck the Gul at full force, driving them toward the railing. Valen tried to grab for the rail with his working hand but missed. The two were sent tumbling over the side. Janeway tried to get a grip on Fantome before he went off, but she couldn’t reach him in time. The two were sent flying into the core and were incinerated the moment they came into contact with the white swirls of energy within. Janeway felt a deep pain in her chest as she watched Fantome sacrifice his life for her. But she didn’t have time to dwell. The station’s shuddering had grown more violent and she had no time left to lose. Janeway snatched up her hand phaser and sprinted as fast as she could to the shuttlecraft.

All along the way, warning lights flashed and alarms bellowed as the station protested its own demise. The floor beneath her feet rocked as she ran, but she kept her balance, determined to escape. She rounded the last corner and entered the shuttlecraft. She stopped dead in her tracks at the sight before her. Valen had gotten there first. All the control surfaces, all the consoles had been blasted to pieces by a phaser. The shuttle was completely inoperable.

Janeway’s shoulders slumped and she let the phaser loose from her grip. It clattered to the floor in defeat. But somehow, Janeway didn’t feel remorse or fear. Rather she felt a level of satisfaction and resignation. Her thoughts were not on her own life, but on Voyagers. She was content with the knowledge that her ship and crew had long since escaped the Void. Despite Valen’s best efforts, she had emerged triumphant. If securing Voyager’s life meant sacrificing her own, that was a decision she would gladly make any day of the week.

Bring them home, Voyager. Janeway silently prayed to her ship as she closed her eyes. Bring them back to Earth.

Just then, an alert sounded from the shuttlecraft sensor monitor which was still functioning. Janeway stepped up to it and observed the display. It signified that a single ship was just off the port bow. Janeway stepped up to the window to see Voyager swoop in from below the viewport. As the vessel sailed upwards, four glowing spheres of light encompassed Janeway’s body as Voyager transported her off the shuttle.