The Alpha Quadrant. Home to Starfleet and the Federation, and the pot of gold at the end of Voyager's rainbow.


Alpha Quadrant

Voyager's Past... And Also Its Future

[Alpha Quadrant Map]

One more miracle shortcut home means that, after a seven year exile in the Delta Quadrant, Voyager is now back home in the Alpha Quadrant. It may even remain there. It's pretty likely that any future trips it might take to other quadrants will be as a result of planned missions rather than accident and misfortune. In any case, its crew are now home and getting reacquainted with the lives they thought they'd lost.

But during the years it was away from home Voyager's crew were not been cut off from Alpha Quadrant influences entirely. There are no shortage of others who have also managed to migrate from the Alpha Quadrant to the Delta. In The 37's they encountered a pickup truck, a plane, and a whole colony of people who had been kidnapped from Earth by aliens in the 1930's and brought into the Delta Quadrant. Since then they have encountered former Borg who were assimilated during the battle at Wolf 359 and brought back to the Delta Quadrant (Unity), the ship in which the Hansen family apparently journeyed 60,000 light years into the quadrant in no more than a couple of years, only to fall prey to the Borg once they got there (The Raven), and a race of saurians whose common ancestry with humans suggested that they themselves must have migrated from the Alpha Quadrant sometime in the distant past (Distant Origin).

Even without the visit home in Future's End, and the fact that every time Q shows up for a visit - Death Wish and The Q And The Grey - he dangles the possibility of an instant return home in front of Janeway like a carrot, it would be difficult for Voyager's crew to forget their origins. Once they managed to temporarily re-establish contact with the Alpha Quadrant in Message In A Bottle and receive a variety of letters and information in return in Hunters, that became more true than ever. They learned a certain amount about the sweeping changes that had taken place in the Alpha Quadrant since their departure, and with the technological breakthrough that gave them regular contact with home from Pathfinder onwards they were probably pretty much up to speed on what was happening there before they got back there themselves. Undoubtedly it took a lot of adjustment for some of them, and it's likely that it will be an ongoing process even after their return.

First and foremost, the Maquis no longer exist, other than a few scattered survivors who have presumably taken refuge back in Federation space. Certainly no one remains to make a stand in the Demilitarised Zone any longer, after the Dominion's forces assisted the Cardassians in carrying out a ruthless purge. Once the Federation went to war with Cardassia, it became increasingly unlikely that Chakotay and his Maquis would have to face the prison sentences upon their return that would have been their fate a few years back, and certainly no-one seems to have any fear of that taking place when they're considering their options in Endgame. In an unstable political climate, where the Federation's military operation must be expanding, many of them would undoubtedly be welcomed back into Starfleet if they should choose to apply for recommission. And, quite probably, that would include dismissed and court-martialled officers such as Tom Paris, particularly with the kind of glowing report he is likely to get from his current captain. In difficult times, a lot can be overlooked. During the year or so immediately after Voyager disappeared, when everybody was at peace, that might have been unthinkable. The Maquis were as much of a nuisance to Starfleet as to Cardassia, and the delicate politics of that area of space would have necessitated the returning Maquis keeping a low profile. They might just have got pardons, for co-operating with Janeway and her Starfleet crew on the journey home, but they certainly couldn't hope to remain part of that crew.

I've always been interested in what exactly Voyager was doing in that part of space prior to its fateful mission to the Badlands. True, the objective of that mission was to retrieve Janeway's undercover Security Chief... but what was Tuvok doing in deep cover in a Maquis cell? It's not the sort of job that you would expect a starship's security officer to be doing, unless he was on long term detached duty (and his first words to Janeway upon being rescued seem to imply that he had not been absent from his primary job for long, probably no more than a couple of months). Or, unless the ship that he belonged to was assigned to that region of space, and had Maquis hunting as part of its long-term mission statement.

It's entirely possible that Voyager was working out of Deep Space Nine and other space stations nearby, patrolling the Federation borders along the Demilitarised Zone. Janeway boasted to Paris that Voyager was capable of navigating amongst the plasma storms of the Badlands; she may well have previously put the ship's capabilities to the test. If Starfleet deliberately built a class of ships for their manoeuvrability, it would be stupid not to then utilise them where they could be most effective. Strictly speaking, there should have been Intrepid-class starships crawling all over the Badlands, alongside Deep Space Nine's runabouts and the Defiant, but we'll assume for now that they only had one available for that particular duty... and that it disappeared under mysterious circumstances.

If the politics of that region of space is still unsettled after Voyager's return, whether because of Cardassian hostility or the ever-present threat of Dominion invasion, the ship might well be reassigned to the area because of its suitability for the job. It might even keep its crew more-or-less together as a result, since the intimate knowledge of the region by the ex-Maquis would be of strategic importance.

Because otherwise, I don't see much hope for Voyager's crew staying together. And Endgame leaves their fate open enough that there's room to speculate. Janeway might remain Captain, and Tuvok might stay with her - and possibly even get promotion to First Officer. But many of the Starfleet crew would inevitably move on to other postings, and possible promotions, on other ships. Paris might or might not have his field commission confirmed. Those of the Maquis who were ex-Starfleet might be accepted back. And Torres might even, at a pinch, have those years at the Academy that she missed waived due to her experience in the field. But the most likely outcome is that they would all be assigned to different ships. The Doctor would be decommissioned once the new medical staff came on board. Seven of Nine would probably find herself the unwilling subject of a fight between the scientists and the military strategists, each determined to have her to themselves to dissect and digest. And perhaps it's as well that Neelix departed from the ship before they made it home, since he would undoubtedly have been put ashore at the first port otherwise, to work his way round the Alpha Quadrant introducing poor unsuspecting races to the delights of leola root.

Hmm. On reflection it's almost a shame that we can't now point him in the direction of the Cardassians...