Disclaimer: Marla Gilmore, Tom Paris and the rest of the crew of Voyager belong to Paramount. I am just borrowing them. This story begins after the events in "The Barge of the Dead."

Moving Forwards

by Beth Newell

As another day began on the U.S.S Voyager, Crewman Marla Gilmore sat on a bench in the hydroponics bay, wondering if the crew of Voyager would ever accept her. It had been ten weeks since the Equinox had been destroyed and she with four others came aboard Voyager. Looking around the hydroponics bay, Marla was still taken aback how clean Voyager looked. Suddenly the doors to the hydroponics bays opened and Marla turned around to see who had come into the room. At first, all she saw was a person's feet, but then the ship's cook and morale officer, Neelix, came into view. The minute that Neelix saw her he stopped.

"Good morning Neelix. How are you today?", Marla asked, hoping that Neelix would answer her question.

"I'm doing well today. I glad that I ran into you, I have been meaning to talk to you. Do you have a few minutes?", Neelix said, as he moved towards the bench that Marla had just vacated.

"I only have ten minutes before I am due in engineering. I don't want to get in trouble with Lieutenant Torres.", Marla said as she sat again.

"I won't keep you long, I just want to know why I haven't seen you much in the mess hall?"

"It's just easier to eat my quarters. I hope you don't mind, but I have been cleaning the trays before I bring them back. I don't want to seem rude, but I really need to get going.", Marla said as she rose from the bench. As she stood, she began to sway. Quickly Neelix jumped up and help Marla back to her seat. "Are you all right, Ms. Gilmore?"

"I'm all right, Neelix. I just got up a little to quickly. Thanks for being concerned. It really means a lot.", Marla said,as started to walk out of the hydroponics bay.

As Marla walked through the halls towards main engineering, she could feel other members of the crew looking at her. As she was rounding the last corner into engineering, a voice from behind called out. "Crewman Gilmore."

Marla turned around to see Seven of Nine walking towards her. Over each shoulder, she had two engineering tool kits. Although Seven didn't have a rank, she was on the senior staff and could cause problems for Marla if she made a bad report about her performance or attitude. Talking a deep breath, Marla waited as Seven made her way down the corridor to her.

"You will be assisting with the upgrades in the astrometics lab today.", Seven stated, as she handed one of the kits to Marla, then turned around and started back the way she had come. Taking another deep breath, Marla followed the ex-Borg towards astrometics.

Marla and Seven spent most of day working in the Jefferies tubes upgrading the power relays. After completing the works in the Jefferies tubes, Marla and Seven headed back to the astrometics lab. As they continued working, Seven realized how late it had become. Looking behind her, she saw that Marla was still working under the main sensor panel.

"Crewman Gilmore, It is fourteen thirty hours. Do you require a break?", Seven asked as she continued to work on the long-range sensors.

Marla came out from the workstation and took a quick look at the chronometer. "No Sir. Let's get this work done.", Marla said, returning to her work. So for the rest of the afternoon and early evening, the two women continued their work. Finally, around the twenty hundred hours, the work was done.

"Your help was appreciated today,Crewman. I will make sure that the Captain Janeway is informed so. Your duty shift ended several hours ago. I will finish here. Have a nice evening.", Seven told Marla as she packed up two tool kits.

Marla quickly finished up her own packing. "Thank you Sir. Have a good evening."

Walking into the messhall, no one offered a greeting to Marla. Slowly Marla made her way to the serving counter. When she got to the serving counter, all the food and silverware had been put up for the night. Realizing that she was not going to get any dinner tonight, she turned to leave.

"Ms. Gilmore, I saved you a dinner plate. Do you like meatloaf? I'll sit with you while you eat, if you like.", Neelix called out as he came out the kitchen with a cover tray and headed towards the tables.

Marla looked over to the next table where Ensigns Tabor, Sharr, and Baytart were sitting. She could tell that they didn't want her in the mess hall. As she moved back to the counter she called out to the Talaxian cook."Neelix, could you please come.", Slowly Neelix walked past the three Ensigns, giving each of them a disapproving look. As Neelix walked up to Marla, She could tell that he felt bad about what had happen "Their behavior is inexcusable. They shouldn't treat you like that. I going to have them placed on report.", Neelix said "Don't worry about it, Neelix, I don't deserved their kindness. I did some awful things when I was on the Equinox. I don't want to cause any problems, while I am on Voyager. Thanks for saving me some dinner. I'll see you around.", Marla said she took the dinner plate out of the Talaxian's hands and started for the door. "Before you go Marla, I have some Thalian chocolate and I would love share it with you tomorrow. Around thirteen hundred hours?" Marla leaned over and gave the Talaxian a kiss on his cheek. "It's my day off, so it's a date. Thanks again for the dinner. Night, Neelix."

As she made her way down the corridor on deck six towards her quarters, Marla realized that she had finally made a friend on Voyager. She was almost to her quarters, when suddenly she was slammed against the wall from behind. As she went against the wall, her food went all over the floor. Suddenly Marla felt a sharp blow across her face.

"Did you think that you would get away with it?", A harsh voice asked.

Marla was slammed against the wall for the second time, she could feel some ribs breaking. As she started to sink into unconscious, all she could see of her attacker was the teal and black of a science uniform.

"Did you not see anyone in the hall way?", Lt. Commander Tuvok asked Crewman Mariah Henley as they stood in sickbay watching the Doctor and Tom Paris treating Marla's injuries. "No, sir I was just leaving our quarters when saw her lying on the floor. I called transport, then I called security.", Mariah said as she looked at roommate lying on the biobed unconscious.

"Are you aware if Crewman Gilmore has been having any problems with other crew members?"

"No. Marla spends all of her off duty time in our quarters. Mostly she has been reading out the database. Novels, tech manuals,and stuff that were published after the Equinox came to the Delta Quadrant. She has some problems with her claustrophobia and panic attacks. When we were at the Markonian station a few weeks ago, they were really bad. I can't believe that she provoked this attack.", Mariah answered the Vulcan.

"And, how do you feel about rooming with Crewman Gilmore?", Tuvok asked as he looked at Mariah closely.

"I'll admit that I didn't like idea of having to share quarters with Marla. But I have had a chance to get know her and realized she was a person who got caught up in the events around her. I know from experience, that you can do things that you wouldn't do normally.", Mariah said as the sickbay door's opened.

Mariah turned to see Voyager's Captain and First Officer walking towards her. As the two officers came towards her, she wonder if they were here out of concern for a junior crew member or were they here out a sense of duty.

"Do you know who was responsible for this attack?", Kathryn Janeway asked as she stood in front of Tuvok and Mariah.

"We believe that Crewman Gilmore is the only one who could tell us who attacked her. Ms. Henley has informed me that she does not know of any problems involving other crewmen.", Tuvok reported to the Captain and the Commander.

"Ms. Gilmore with not be able to make a statement of any kind until tomorrow.", A voice from behind called out. The four officers turned to see Voyager's EMH walking towards them. "Could we please have this conversation in my office? My patient does need her rest. Mr. Paris will watch her.", The Doctor said, as he led the foursome his office.

Once the they were in the office, the Doctor gave his report on the injured woman. "Ms. Gilmore's third and fifth ribs on her right side were broken. She also has a broken right wrist and a concussion. She also has a mild case of Vulcan flu. She will be feeling sore when she wakes up, but will make a recovery from both of her ailments."

"Good. The minute that Crewman Gilmore is awake, Tuvok, I want to take a statement from her. I want this situation dealt with. Because I don't want anyone else getting any ideas.", Janeway said as she looked back into the sickbay area.

" I will see to it, Captain.", Tuvok replied.

"Good, contact me if there are any other problems. I see you both of you tomorrow. Crewman Henley. Doctor. Good night." Kathryn Janeway said as she walked passed by the four officers and out of the sickbay.

"Well it's good to know that our Captain is so concern about the health of her crew.", The Doctor mudded as left his office and went back to the treatment area.

"Is their anyone on your team that you trust to watch her?", Chakotay asked he as watched the Doctor confer with Tom Paris.

"I believe that Ensign Culhane is the correct person for the job.", Tuvok answered.

"Good, get him up here.", Chakotay said as kept looking at the scene in sickbay.

As Marla regained conscious, the first thing that she saw was that she was not in her quarters. Slowly, Marla sat and realized that she was in sickbay. As she sat on the biobed, she heard a noise coming from the Doctor's office. Pushing back her blond hair, Marla watched as the Doctor came out his of office and towards her. "Am I in trouble?", Marla said, nodding at security officer standing near the door.

"Of course not, you are the victim in the case. The guard is here to make sure nothing happen to you. I think that now you are awake, we can do without Crewman O'Donnell. Crewman, you are dismissed.", The Doctor said as he went stand next to Marla.

"Doctor, my orders are from Commander Tuvok. I am to stay here and watch Crewman Gilmore. I just can't leave because you want me to. I have to stay here until--", Suddenly, O'Donnell stopped when he saw sickbay doors open and his superior officer walk in.

"You are dismissed, Crewman O'Donnell.", Tuvok as walked into sickbay and towards Marla.

"Yes sir,", O'Donnell said, clearly relieved to be going.

"I will let you confer with the Commander in private. But we will be having a little talk later about taking care of yourself.", The Doctor announced.

"I look forward to it," Marla answered.

Walking past Tuvok, the Doctor gave him a nod. Once they were alone, Tuvok told Marla what he knew. "I know who attacked you. It was Crewman Robertson. It appears that he blames you for the death of Ensign Foster. It seems that they had developed a romantic relationship prior to her death. After attacking you, he went to Sandrine's and consumed a large amount of synthehol. Later that evening, he informed a dozen or so people that he attacked you. He will be punished for his crimes."

"Something else for people to blame me for. The Voyager crew blames me for the death of its two crewmembers. The guys from the Equinox don't talk to me because they blame me for being on Voyager. Everyone on this ship hates me. I don't how much more this I can handle.", Marla said with tears with in her eyes.

"You have proven yourself to be a strong person.", Tuvok replied. "As for how people feel towards you, time will help you", Tuvok continued. "As I recall, that during the first year of our voyage home, there was much hostility between the Starfleet and Maquis crews. It took time for trust to build between the crews."

"It will take time, Crewman, but I believe all the former members of the Equinox have a bright future on Voyager.", Tuvok said as he heard the doors of sickbay opened.

Turning around he saw Mariah Henley coming in with a concern look on her face. "I see that your roommate would like to visit with you. I will be back later to take a statement from you."

"Thank you Sir. I will take your advice." Marla responded as she watched her roommate come in the sickbay and towards her.

"Well, its looks like you are on the fast road to recovery. How long are you going to have to stay in sickbay?", Mariah Henley asked as she hopped on the biobed next to Marla's.

"Don't know. The Doctor wants to have a little talk with me about taking better care of myself. So, that may take a while. What do you have in mind?", Marla asked her roommate suspiciously.

"With everything that was going yesterday, I never got the chance to check the e-mail. The Captain has given you both deck time and replicator rations starting yesterday. I happen to have a program of a spa on Betazed. So, if you can convince the Doctor to release you, maybe we could go later. I'll come back later, After you have had your talk with the Doctor.", Mariah said as she got off the biobed. "Take it easy.", As she left sickbay Mariah gave Marla a hug and left sickbay.

Marla watched Mariah leave sickbay, laid back on the biobed. As she began to drift again sleep, she slowly realized that she felt more relaxed than she had in years. And that moment she knew that everything would be all right.

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