The circumstances had been unusual.
Actually, that was the understatement of the century.
These circumstances had made unusual seem as routine as breathing.
Sure, he’d thought about the captain before. She was a good-looking woman. He’d often thought about what she was really like. What would happen if those auburn locks were ever taken down?
But these circumstances had been different.
He’d gone too fast. And suddenly he was everywhere at once. And then his DNA was messed up. And then he’d taken her along, and her DNA had gotten messed up, too. They’d shot forward on the evolutionary scale.
And then, it seemed, they’d hit the end of their collective tether, or had hit some sort of a barrier, and had been shot back. They’d overshot their normal states. They’d ended up on a planet and they had regressed to, eventually, an amphibious form. They had been on the threshold of something unexpected and had, instead, regressed to something familiar.
And that was when it had started.
But she remembered, and wondered – where had the others gone to? She recalled far more offspring than the ones who’d been found with them.
Everything had gone so much faster than normal. And being fruitful, and multiplying, were the only things that they had done. But she hadn’t just laid a few eggs.
There had been other means, as if they were all being tried on for size. There were leathery eggs, placed inside a carefully-dug pit and then covered with soft, warm sand kicked by clawed back legs. There were more gelatinous eggs, transparent, that had been laid and fertilized underwater, and had drifted away on the currents and tides. There were others, lighter than air, that had blown on the breeze and been scattered to the four winds, much like dandelion seeds. There had been hard-shelled eggs, laid in a nest of twigs and mud. And there had even been live births.
Her pregnancies – or her egg incubations – had not taken long. They should have taken weeks or months. Instead, they had taken hours. And then they would be raring to go again.
They had lost the gift of language while they were in that form, but it was unnecessary. It was chemical pheromones that had done all the talking.
They summoned her, or him, and they would couple with fierceness and an urgency that could not be expressed in words. It was frenzied and intense, burning in their bodies and fusing their psyches.
Kathryn Janeway was startled out of a sound sleep. It had been months since the transwarp incident with helmsman Tom Paris. But her body and her subconscious and her memory had conspired to conjure up a dream, and it had reminded her.
Affected and troubled, she made her way to the Mess and, even though it was the middle of the night, got herself a coffee.
She was not alone.
“I, uh, I know this is weird but, uh, I had a dream about, uh, about …”
“About you and me, in that swamp?”
“How did you know?”
“It’s why I’m here. It jolted me up. I assume you had the same reaction.”