Authors: Jeri Taylor
Tags: #Fiction, #General, #Science Fiction
"Well, I'm going to show them. They can make me keep
taking tennis, but I don't have to like it. And I'm never
going to be any good at it. Sooner or later, they'll see
it's a waste of time."
And having made that decision, Kathryn began to feel a lot
better. She reached down and scratched Bramble on the
tummy, his favorite place, and he rolled over on his back
But then Daddy came home with his amazing news, and she
forgot all about tennis.
She was going to take her first trip into space.
Her first ride on a shuttle. Her first visit to Mars
"I have to go next week," Daddy explained to all of them-her, Phoebe, and Mommy-as they sat around the dinner table.
Kathryn was only picking at her food, partly from
excitement and partly because she preferred replicated food
over the meals that her mother cooked with real food. Why
couldn't they do things like other people?
"Starfleet's sending a group to examine the colony's
defense systems. It will take a couple of days and I
thought maybe it was time for Goldenbird to get a taste of
Kathryn's heart hammered in her chest. A trip with Daddy-and not just a trip but a visit to another planet! She'd
been dreaming of this since she'd been old enough to
realize that people could travel through the stars to other
"I want to go, too!" yelped Phoebe.
Kathryn's head whipped toward her instantly.
"You can't. You're too little."
"Kathryn. . ." murmured her mother.
"Daddy, can I? Can I go, too?" Phoebe's impish face looked
imploringly at her father, blue eyes wide and intense. She
looked so pathetic that for a brief moment Kathryn thought
Daddy might actually say yes. "I'm sorry, Phoebe, but
Starfleet has rules. You're a little young." Phoebe's eyes
welled up with tears, and even Kathryn felt sorry for her.
"Phoebe, you can use my padds while I'm gone. As long as
you're careful." Now the blue eyes turned toward her, tears
instantly retreating. "I can?"
Phoebe constantly badgered Kathryn to use her padds, with
their myriad games, stories, and songs.
"That's very thoughtful, Kathryn," said her mother. And it
was. Ordinarily she wouldn't let Phoebe within ten meters
of her things. But she could afford to be generous tonight.
She was going to Mars!
The transport to San Francisco was no
different from any other: a brief moment of disorientation
as one's vision obscured, then a tingling sensation as
different surroundings sparkled into clarity.
Kathryn and her father materialized on one of the
transporter pads of Starfleet Headquarters; waiting for
them was a small retinue, including an admiral, two
captains, and a lieutenant who stood deferentially behind
"Well, Edward," said the admiral to her father, "whom do
we have here? A stowaway?" He was a tall, florid man with
Irish red hair that didn't quite look under control. His
smile was lopsided and cheerful.
"A future cadet, I hope. Admiral Finnegan, may I present
my daughter, Kathryn."
Kathryn knew how to behave in situations like this.
She approached the man, offered her hand, and said, "How do
The older man smiled down at her. "I do very well,
beautiful lady. How about you?"
She blushed at his compliment. "Fine, thank you, sir." She
was wearing a brand-new turquoise jumpsuit that her mother
had replicated for the occasion, and she imagined that it
resembled the uniforms worn by her father and the others.
She felt crisp and military. "Captains Laurel and Dobrynin,
Lieutenant Kashut, Kathryn Janeway."
Kathryn shook hands with each of them, solemnly and
politely. "Shall we?" Admiral Finnegan gestured again
toward the transporter pad.
"Our shuttle is ready and we have a pilot standing by."
And once more they dematerialized, only to find
themselves, seconds later, in the spacedock which orbited
Earth's northern hemisphere. Kathryn had never seen
anything so astonishing. It was huge, with cavernous
hangars and dozens of docking piers, cargo bays, and
corridors. Windows to space were everywhere, affording
incredible views. Earth swam below them, blue and cloud-shrouded, a stately orb that soared majestically in the
Kathryn had seen pictures, of course, but nothing had
prepared her for the sight of her planet from space. She
stood at one of the huge windows, staring at the jeweled
sphere, trying to figure out where Indiana was. "Amazing,
isn't it?" She looked up to see her father standing next to
her. "I remember the first time I saw Earth like that. I
was about your age."
"Is that when you decided to join Starfleet?"
He smiled at her, gray eyes crinkling at the edges. "I
think I decided that before I was born."
"Did you mean it when you told them I'd be a cadet
someday?" "Only if that's what you want."
"It is, Daddy. More than anything."
He put a hand on her shoulder and looked down at her for a
moment. He did that from time to time, and Kathryn never
knew what he was thinking. "We're ready to go now," he
said, and she took his hand as they entered the shuttlebay.
Standing at stiff attention next to a Starfleet shuttle
was a cadet wearing the uniform of Starfleet Academy. He
looked very odd to Kathryn. His skin was a light golden
color, and his eyes were pale. She tried not to stare at
him. Admiral Finnegan nodded to the cadet as they entered
the shuttle. "We have a very important young guest today,
Mr. Data, so make this flight nice and smooth."
"Yes, sir," replied the cadet. He had a gentle, soothing
voice. Kathryn looked up at him as she passed by, and this
time he didn't look so strange. He had an air of
imperturbability that was appealing. The group took their
seats in the shuttle, and the cadet boarded last. He began
working the controls, and Kathryn was reminded of her piano
teacher, whose fingers roamed so effortlessly and precisely
over the keys. "Shuttle Curie to docking control. Ready for
pre-launch sequencing." The cadet's voice was as confident
and poised as his demeanor. "Control to Curie. Prelaunch
sequencing under way. You may proceed." The cadet continued
his manipulation of the controls.
The hatch closed, the shuttlebay decompressed, and the
small craft lifted smoothly off the deck, heading for the
giant doors which even now were gliding open.
"Shuttle Curie to docking control.
Approaching portals. Ready for egress." "Go ahead, Curie.
Kathryn held her breath. It was a regal moment, endowed
with wonder and mystery. Gracefully, silently, the vessel
passed through the massive portals and into the inky void
Only the faint hum of the impulse engines broke a silence
that seemed almost holy. Kathryn sat with nose pressed
against a window, staring back as the spacedock receded
from view, growing smaller and smaller until she could no
longer see it. Earth was diminishing, too; soon it was a
small blue dot and finally only a circle of light.
Three hours later, Mars became a visible disk. Kathryn
stared as it grew larger and larger; the first discernible
feature she spotted on it was a whitish spot, almost like a
tiny star, twinkling at one edge of the disk. "That's the
southern polar cap," said Daddy, as though reading her
mind. "It's always the first thing you notice on Mars. Even
though the planet's been terraformed, the southern polar
cap is still frozen-but it's mostly carbon dioxide that's
frozen, not water."
Kathryn searched her memory for her history lessons, and
wished she had given them as much time and attention as she
had science and mathematics. She vaguely remembered reading
about the colonization of Mars, but it had struck her at
the time as somewhat unremarkable. After all, space
travelers now flew to other systems, other sectors; what
was so amazing about a colony in one's own planetary
But as multi-hued Mars loomed in front of her, it seemed
extraordinary indeed. Patches of red were still visible on
the planet-oxidized dust, which had given it the nickname
"the red planet" several centuries ago. But now there were
vast areas of blue and green, and wisps of white water-vapor clouds hanging in the atmosphere. It didn't look like
Earth, but it looked like a fertile, living planet. The
transformation had been a massive undertaking, made
possible with help from the Vulcans, the first offworld
species to make contact with humans.
That memorable meeting had taken place in 2063, the year
Zefram Cochrane had launched the first warp flight and
alerted the spacefaring Vulcans that Earth was ready to
take its place in the interplanetary community. Kathryn had
studied all that in her history class. How Cochrane's
revolutionary discovery had lifted Earth from the chaos it
had endured in the early part of the twentyfirst century,
how the arrival of the Vulcans had forged an alliance that
carried Earth into a technological renaissance that
eventually resulted in the creation of such nowfamiliar
conveniences as replicators and transporters.
But the first great project was the colonization of Mars,
and she was not clear on the details. However, she was not
about to admit that to her father, and so she affected a
nonchalant attitude and informed him, "I know all about
that, Daddy. We studied it in school."
And so there was no more discussion of Mars, even though
Kathryn would love to have heard the details.
Soon they docked at Utopia Planitia, the huge orbiting
space station that also served as a shipbuilding facility
for Starfleet, and then were transported into an operations
center on the surface. It was a large room full of
equipment-consoles, monitors, what seemed like thousands of
blinking colored lights-and people busy manning that
equipment. Kathryn was fascinated. She wanted to stay in
that room and try to figure out exactly what everyone was
doing, what function all those blinking lights served. But
that was not to be.
"Mr. Data, would you please give our young guest a tour of
the colony? You're familiar with the place, aren't you?"
Kathryn noted that Admiral Finnegan's Adam's apple bobbed
up and down as he spoke. "Indeed, sir. I completed an
engineering honorarium here a year ago. I am thoroughly
familiar with the colony and its environs."
The cadet turned to Kathryn. "I would be pleased to act as
your guide, Miss Janeway."
Kathryn smiled inwardly at the man's formality, but she
would never show her amusement-that would be impolite.
Solemnly she looked at him and said, "Thank you, sir."
Kathryn looked at Daddy, who was already moving off with
the others, heads together, in deep conversation. She felt
a momentary twinge of something she couldn't identify as
she saw him walking off. She was alone here, on another
planet, and Daddy was leaving her. She felt her heart start
to beat more quickly, and there was a funny sensation in
Then she heard the cadet's quiet, placating voice.
"Strictly speaking, Miss Janeway, it is not necessary for
you to address me as "sir." I do not outrank you, for you
have no Starfleet rank at all."
"Then what should I call you?"
"Data would be satisfactory."
"Data?" Kathryn tried to find a polite way to phrase her
next question. "Is that a common name among your species?"
"I have no species. I am an artificial intelligence, and
so far as I know, the only one of my kind."
Kathryn stared at him. She knew she was being rude, but
she could hardly believe her ears. "Are you saying . . .
you're not real?"
"I assure you I am quite real. However, I lack any true
biological component. I was constructed and then
programmed." And, to demonstrate, he snapped open a portion
of his wrist.
Kathryn almost jumped. Revealed under his skinskin?-was a
mass of circuitry, a complex web of optical fibers and
blinking lights. She looked up at him, amazed, and dozens
of questions began flooding her mind. "Who made you? And
programmed you? Where did it happen? How did you get into
Starfleet Academy-was Suddenly she stopped and covered her
mouth. "I'm sorry. I'm being too curious. Mommy says I have
to be careful or I might hurt people's feelings."
"I have no emotions which might be wounded, so you may
feel free to ask me any question you like. I shall be happy
And as they toured Mars Colony, Data began to tell her
about his unique origins. Within minutes, Kathryn had lost
her anxieties, and found that she was in fact comfortable
asking him anything and everything, for he seemed to know
more than anyone she'd ever met, even Daddy. "Terraforming