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Fanfic / The Prodigal Daughter

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"The Prodigal Daughter" by Kurt is a Star Trek: Voyager ‘sequel’ fic, set shortly after Voyager returned home ("Endgame") and essentially a sequel to "Equinox". When former Equinox crewmember Marla Gilmore is abducted from just outside Starfleet headquarters after accepting her sentence of a dishonourable discharge from Starfleet, she is forced to recreate her enhanced warp drive by Section 31, leaving her fate in the hands of the crew that spent the last two years making her feel isolated and alone.

The Prodigal Daughter contains examples of:

  • The Atoner: Marla is clearly presented as wanting to be this and hampered by the lack of opportunities to do so.
  • Back from the Dead: In as much as a hologram can be considered ‘dead’, Janeway and the Doctor are able to reactivate the Equinox EMH to help them treat Tom Paris and Noah Lessing for serious injuries.
  • Broken Pedestal: Janeway is naturally disturbed when she learns of the mere existence of Section 31, particularly when she realises that one of their associates is a respected Starfleet Judge.
  • Crossover: Voyager makes a stop at Deep Space 9 and Kira and Bashir accompany them in their efforts to find Marla after Bashir tells Janeway about Section 31 (although only Bashir contributes to the resolution of the situation).
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: While ‘evil’ and ‘loved ones’ might be overstating the matter, Kilbourne notes that Sloan was respected in Section 31 and quite a few people aren’t happy that Bashir let him die so that he could save Odo.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Discussed when Janeway retrieves Section 31’s notes on her and is disturbed to find that they genuinely believed she wouldn’t come for any of the Equinox Five.
  • Heel Realization: Janeway in particular has one when she is confronted with the way she and the rest of the senior staff basically ignored the Equinox survivors, to the extent that Section 31 captured Marla Gilmore to try and recreate her work and assumed that nobody would look for her.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Section 31’s agent in the Starfleet Justice Department, who arranged for Marla to receive her discharge from the fleet, is unable to have Marla transferred to a psychiatric hospital as Janeway and Bashir each observe that Marla currently isn’t a member of Starfleet, meaning he has no legal authority to take her.
  • Honor Before Reason: Probably the best description of Chakotay's decision not to take the originally offered plea deal where he would confess to ‘terrorist activities’ in return for a five year sentence that would be considered 'time served' after his service on Voyager, as he refuses to consider himself a terrorist for trying to defend his home.
  • Nightmare Fuel: The recreated Equinox is specifically designed to invoke this for Marla as part of Section 31's attempts to break her, and she is further devastated when she witnesses the Spirits of Good Fortune that Section 31 had already killed to use as fuel.
  • Noodle Incident: Marla recalls some of the other events faced by the Equinox in the Delta Quadrant, including Burke being captured by the Vori ("Nemesis") and two separate occasions where the main computer crashed during a hull breach and Marla had to restart the whole ship practically by herself.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Janeway delivers the following to the fake Rudy Ransom to make it clear how much contempt she has for him;
    “When a young ensign in desperate straits obeys an order from her captain that she knows is immoral, that's bad. When a captain of a stranded vessel, thousands of light-years from home, makes a devil's bargain to save the rest of his crew from constant danger and endless desperation, that's worse. But when men with full bellies in warm offices decide to put a woman through her own personal hell just so she'll help you murder billions of innocent people and get away with it.... That is far worse than anything Rudy Ransom could have ever done.”
  • Rebuilt Pedestal: Where Noah Lessing in particular always had a low opinion of Janeway, seeing how far she’s willing to go to rescue Marla helps him accept her as a captain.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Marla at least considers this, but other characters either explicitly stop her from doing so or decide to spare her.
  • Rule of Symbolism: In her final confrontation with the fake Ransom, Marla demands his captain’s pips as her way of honouring the original Ransom’s memory.
  • Sanity Slippage: Marla practically has a breakdown after she is tortured and manipulated by the Section 31 operatives, to the extent that the Voyager crew have to call in Lessing to help them talk her down after she sets the warp core of the fake Equinox to overload and screams at B’Elanna and Seven to leave her to die.
  • Screw the Money, I Have Rules!: Janeway immediately rejects even the idea of getting a Sovereign-class ship in ‘exchange’ for returning Marla Gilmore to Section 31.
  • Sherlock Scan: Marla is able to do some research to identify three psychiatrists who vanished some time ago and have the right reputation and appearance to be the fake Equinox crew, allowing for relatively minor plastic surgery.
  • Ship Tease: There are hints that Janeway and Chakotay have more-than-professional feelings for each other, but it never goes deeper than what was shown in the original series.
  • True Companions: When Janeway decides to investigate Marla Gilmore's disappearance, she organises a meeting with the former Maquis crew to inform them that they can remain behind, as she's aware her current actions are of questionable legality and she doesn't want to put the ex-Maquis at risk when their legal status is still uncertain. Despite the risks, when Janeway says that any Maquis who wants to stay behind just has to take one step forward, the entire group instead take a deliberate step back to affirm that they'll help find Marla.
  • Visionary Villain: Kilbourne and his operatives all justify their actions in the name of ensuring that Romulus can’t threaten the Federation in the future.
  • What You Are in the Dark: While Marla feels that she failed this test when she not only went along with what happened on the Equinox but also rebuilt the enhanced warp drive for Section 31, Janeway counters with her new understanding that events on the Equinox were exceptional circumstances and chooses to focus on how long Marla held out against torture specifically designed to break her in the second case.
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist: Janeway is particularly disturbed at the existence of Section 31 as it goes against her own vision of Starfleet.