Author's Note: Thank you to Liz Cobbe and LA Koehler—without those two, I wander in a wilderness of poor grammar.

...Stronger Than Justice

by Briar Rose

"Kaia!"  I scream her name, but it's lost amid the panicked voices of the people around me.  They jostle against me as they shove their way toward the exit doors.  I can't see her or Leith anywhere, and I'm fighting down a rising panic.

I spot someone with long black hair, so like hers, but when she turns at my call, I don't recognize her.  Her eyes are panicked, too.  I don't recognize anyone. 

She was just beside me.  One moment I was with her, and the next, she was gone.  I was gone. 

I feel heavy; drained, and so tired all of a sudden.  People are starting to fall to the floor.  They must have pumped in gas to sedate us.  Or stunned us.  I don't even have time to wonder how I know that before the darkness engulfs me.


I wake up and the light is so bright I can't see for a moment.  A man is leaning over me; he says he's a doctor; not to be afraid.  He won't hurt me—somehow I know this. 

"Kaia?" I ask.  "Where's my wife?"  His eyes shift to a point past my head, then he smiles as he presses a hypospray against my neck.  I try to ask about Leith, but blackness claims me again.


My name is Ken Dalby.  I knew that.  But the rest of what they're telling me is...preposterous.  I was taken from this ship, my memories wiped so I could be used in some sort of workforce on an alien planet.  I'm not married, I don't have a son, I don't have a life.  Not the one I know, at least.  It's fantastic, ridiculous.  And I don't believe him.  I won't. 

The others seem to accept it.  They seem happy to be back, to have their old lives back.  But I'm not.  I've seen my logs.  I've watched myself record them and it's me, but it's not me.  It's like watching a double.  A doppelganger. 

Or maybe I'm the ghost. 

I guess I do belong here, but I don't feel like I do. 

My old memories are starting to come back, but they're mixed up.  Not just sequentially.   They're mixed with my memories from Quarra and I don't know what's real and what's not.  No, that's wrong—it's all real. 

I remember being in the Maquis.  Fighting beside Chakotay and the others.  I remember Species 8472, our fights with the Borg, the Caretaker. I remember Tuvok's training and how he rescued Gerron.  I just don't remember the order that it all happened. 

I remember Leith being born, and how Kaia looked the day I asked her to marry me, so many years ago.  The dress she was wearing, and the way she kissed me when she said yes.   I remember the night we made Leith; the taste of her skin, and the way she lay in my arms afterwards.  But it can't be right, because I was with Mara then...

I remember Mara, though I'm trying not to.  I guess that's why Dr. Kaden gave me that memory implant.  Gave me a wife and a son.  Because Mara's been on my mind so much lately.  At least she was, before.  We were trying to have a baby.  She thought she might have been pregnant, but it was too soon to get our hopes up.  We'd been trying for a long time.  Then those fucking Cardies grabbed her, and...

Our baby would have been 9 years old in a few months.

That's why I joined the Maquis.  I remember that.  And I remember wanting to kill as many of the bastards as I could.  I'm surprised Chakotay trusted me.  I was crazy with grief.  But then, he trusted Suder too, and he really was crazy, I guess.

Crazy.  I feel like I'm going crazy now.

It's hard not to think of her with B'Elanna walking around so obviously happy, finally.  So obviously pregnant.  I don't resent her for it.  Either of them.  But I'm jealous, and I'm angry all over again.  Especially now.

B'Elanna will come up to my station with a padd or a comment on my work.  Her belly will bump my elbow and she'll laugh and apologize.  It happens over and over again, and I laugh with her.  What else can I do?  I want to reach out and touch her; spread my hands across the baby growing in her womb, and pretend it's mine.  Mine and Kaia's.

God, I miss Kaia and Leith.  They're not part of the crew.  I've looked; roamed the corridors and scanned the database.  I don't believe that they were acting.  They must have been brainwashed, too.  We were a family.  They loved me.  I loved them.  I still do.

He didn't even ask us.  He beamed us onto Voyager, and warped away from Quarra without looking back.  No one asked me if I wanted to leave them, or if I wanted to stay.  And by the time they got around to me—the ex-Maquis, misfit crewman—we were lightyears away.

I want to go back.  I wonder if I'm the only one.  Somehow, getting back to the Alpha quadrant to kill more Cardassians just isn't enough anymore.  I should have resigned my commission.  Stolen a shuttle, anything. 

I want my wife back.  I want my life back.  Even if it wasn't really mine.

The End.

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