The Gamma Quadrant. Home to a handy stable wormhole with quick and easy access to Federation Space... and an uncertain political climate that made that wormhole a less than certain shortcut home for Voyager.


Gamma Quadrant

Why The Gamma Quadrant Never Formed Part Of Voyager's Travel Plans

[Gamma Quadrant Map]

The Gamma Quadrant is the one part of the galaxy that never seemed likely to feature heavily in USS Voyager's epic journey home. The marooned Starfleet ship's obvious conventional course was always to take in a large part of the Delta Quadrant, then to cut across the Beta Quadrant on its way home to Federation space in the Alpha Quadrant. Not even the most direct straight line course possible would put that journey through the Gamma Quadrant, and on a journey that could well have lasted a lifetime for most of Voyager's crew, there was little time or opportunity for them to contemplate major detours that weren't concerned with survival or supply gathering.

And yet speculation continued to link the ship with the Gamma Quadrant thoughout much of the early seasons. It was suggested, for instance, that Voyager's journey home might be shortened significantly by setting course for the Gamma Quadrant instead of the Alpha Quadrant, and taking a shortcut home via the Bajoran wormhole. But how viable an option would that really have been?

Not very, so far as I can see. Firstly, let's consider what the crew of Voyager would actually know about the wormhole, and the conditions prevailing in the Gamma Quadrant at the time that they disappeared. The power and influence of the Dominion over the planets and races in that area of the Gamma Quadrant had been known for at least a year. After initial encounters with the Jem'Hadar and their Vorta supervisors, fear of a war with the Dominion was prevalent enough that traffic through the wormhole had decreased and many of those living on Deep Space Nine had moved back to Bajor, believing the space station's position at the mouth of the wormhole to be too exposed and vulnerable to attack. And with the Founders' revelation that they had sent out a hundred of their young into the galaxy, it was known that the possibility existed that some of those changelings were posing as Federation citizens.

Having started out on her mission to the Badlands from Deep Space Nine, Voyager could not have failed to be aware of the general feeling of paranoia and expectation of war. Since her Chief Security Officer was already on a covert mission in the area, it's likely that the ship had been assigned to that part of space for some time, possibly ever since the ship was commissioned. If so, Janeway and her original crew may even have been through the wormhole and visited the Gamma Quadrant at some time; certainly they would be well aware of the conditions. They would know that in the political climate that existed at the time of their disappearance, Voyager's passage through Dominion space would not be welcome. It would probably have occurred to them that if the situation deteriorated sufficiently, an attempt might be made by one side or the other to blow the wormhole up - as indeed it later was, albeit an unsuccessful one.

Under the circumstances, I don't believe that the Bajoran wormhole would ever have been considered too seriously as a potential route home. Even if the situation with the Dominion were resolved on friendly terms in the meantime, the wormhole itself was still a relatively unknown quantity. It had been discovered only two years earlier; an artificial conduit created by a race of isolated aliens having no common interests or frame of reference with those on either side of the wormhole. It would be an awfully big risk to invest 40 years of the crew's life on heading for a wormhole which might not be there when Voyager arrived; a journey during which they would get only marginally closer to the Alpha Quadrant during the first 20 years, and then spend the next 20 heading away from their destination. Even at the time Voyager managed to re-establish contact with the Alpha Quadrant and get an update on the political situation from Starfleet the situation was still uncertain, and by then they had managed to travel many thousands of light years in a different direction.

No, if I was Janeway I'd have chosen to do the same thing: point Voyager's nose at the Alpha Quadrant and chart a course for the obvious route home. At the outset it might well have seemed likely to be the longer journey, but at least the crew wouldn't have had to spend 40 years or so wondering whether their short cut was actually going to turn out to be a dead end!

And, as we now know, the direct route home did indeed turn out to be quicker.