Chapter 1: Chapter 1
Star Trek Shock Lesbian Love Affair
THE VENICE HERALD can exclusively reveal that Star Trek Voyager leading ladies Kate Mulgrew, and Jeri Ryan, who star as Captain Kathryn Janeway and her sexy robotic protégé Seven of Nine in the Gene Roddenberry spin-off saga which airs on UPN on Sunday night and weekday nights have been in a romantic relationship since meeting on the set of the pioneering Paramount Pictures series.
Photographed together holding hands, bathing and later having apparent sexual relations on a private stretch of Los Angeles beach late on Saturday night, the two women were unavailable for comment last night and are understood to be returning to their scheduled filming obligations this Monday morning despite some public commentators questioning their suitability to continue starring in this pre-watershed Paramount hit.
While Mulgrew, 43, a divorcee is not believed to have a current partner, Jeri Ryan has been married to her husband Jack Ryan for eight years.
"These women are bringing the sanctity of marriage between man and woman into disrepute, "commented Republican Congresswoman Tabatha Peterson in response to the news of homosexuality within the ranks of a prime-time television cast, "The Star Trek franchise is openly promoting homosexuality by allowing these women to remain employed."
The Congresswoman's sentiments are echoed by many including Voyager co-producer Rick Berman, a veteran producer of the Trek franchise, who today released a statement saying, "Ryan and Mulgrew's actions do not reflect the morality of the family values which the Star Trek franchise has always endeavoured to relate to viewers over its thirty year history. The indecent behaviour of these actresses has brought disrepute upon the franchise."
Berman later added that he would be personally investigating what he dubbed the "incident on the secluded beach", by requesting individual interviews with both Mulgrew and Ryan and their legal representation, along with the studios own.
But despite the criticism and accusations of indecency these two actresses have received from both the public and media spectators, they have also received strong words of support from many within the Star Trek family itself.
Actress and widow of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry, Majel Roddenberry, who lends her voice as the starship Voyager's computer, today appeared before cameramen stating, "My late husband would be furious at the abuse these two brave and beautiful women have received from media and from spectators. And he would be appalled by the disgraceful words of Mr Berman. I myself am appalled and disassociate myself entirely from this man's blatant and cruel homophobia."
Roddenberry refused to comment on the alleged meeting between legal representatives of Ryan and Mulgrew, and of Paramount Studios which Berman had announced, adding only, "It is my dearest wish that the studio will treat these two women with a decency and humanity which Berman has not."
Robert McNeill, a second actor to who stars alongside Ryan and Mulgrew on the bridge of the Starship Voyager, became angry after he and his wife were approached by reporters last night to comment on the news of his lesbian co-stars, and responded to the incident with words of support.
"Leave them alone. They are adults. And my wife and I wish them all the best. Kate and Jeri have our full support."
Similar words of solidarity were echoed by actor Robert Picardo, who plays Voyager's holographic doctor, and Ethan Phillips, who plays an eccentric alien friend of the Voyager crew, who each gave separate statements insisting that each of their fellow actresses had their full respect and support.
The gay and lesbian community in Los Angeles have also responded to the news of Ryan and Mulgrew's romance with an outpouring of support and welcome.
Tessa Davies, the elected manager of the Los Angeles Lesbian Forum, an organisation which supports and promotes lesbian rights and well-being across the city and more widely across the state of California, commented, "We want the Star Trek actresses Kate Mulgrew and Jeri Ryan to know that they have our full support and our friendship. They will never be alone in their battle against homophobia or sexism."
Davies added, "We, along with our friends and partners among other charities and organisations which protect women and the lesbian and gay community from abuse at the hands of the media, employers and the government, are willing to mobilise should Ryan and Mulgrew require more urgent support. We will not tolerate the abuse or public humiliation of any gay man or woman within this great state of California."
The Los Angeles Lesbian Forum, along with other related organisations both in California and beyond, including the GayLesbian Alliance of San Francisco, with the help of their donors, have also been quick to offer financial and legal support to the two actresses in their battle to retain their reputations and employment.
Star Trek Voyager is the first among the Star Trek franchise to star a woman, Kate Mulgrew, as Captain.
The revelation of Ryan and Mulgrew's secret lesbian romance and the subsequent social and political implications are extraordinary events which may be symptomatic of the American traditionalist way of life at odds with American modern living.
The Venice Herald has a long tradition of supporting lesbian and gay rights in this great city of Los Angeles and beyond.
Kate Mulgrew and Jeri Ryan have The Venice Herald's full support.
Chapter 2: Chapter 2
"I can't believe him!" Jeri sobbed, "I can't believe he's done this to us…"
In a large and cleanly furnished therapists office on the coast of the blue Pacific, the young actresses eyes glittered with white sunlight sparkling over her heavy tears.
It was Tuesday morning. Twenty-four hours after news of her Kate Mulgrew's relationship had broken over the media. And as she mopped her tears and ached with fury and despair, her body stood fixed before the open window.
Her crystal blue eyes stung as they mirrored the colour and breadth of the sky.
The uncontrollable sobbing had begun to make her body tremble and she was determinedly trying to refocus her mind.
Breathing the fresh sea air as deeply as she could into her lungs, she closed her eyes from the sun and was silent for several minutes.
A curly haired woman of Kate's age sat in the therapist's chair watching Jeri patiently.
Her client had been staring in the direction of the private beach in which Ryan and her female lover had been betrayed to the media. The beach belonged to one of Jeri's wealthy, male friend's. A man who had held the actresses confidence, and upon hearing the story of Jeri's romance with her fellow female cast member, had offered the two women the use of his empty private beach and beach house.
He had later admitted to Jeri herself that he had tipped off a local photographer to the two actresses location.
He had given no reason for his betrayal, and Jeri had been forced to conclude that he had been jealous of the romance she had shared with Mulgrew.
"… How is Kate?"
The therapist's calm voice floated as if from a distance towards Jeri's ears.
The now quietened younger woman opened her eyes and smiled softly, gratefully.
"… She is angry…"
Jeri's face fell and she lowered her head, nervously screwing and unscrewing the tissues still between her fingers.
"She does not blame me, but -" Jeri began but her voice began to break.
Falling silent her body tensed once more as she tried to suppress her tears.
Taking some moments to regain her composure, her therapist sat in attentive silence.
Her heart aching now with guilt, Jeri raised her chin, looked directly into her therapist eyes and stated, "I blame myself."
After a brief moment the female therapist asked, "Do you find that helpful?"
The actresses lips opened but she did not reply.
The therapist was staring at Jeri intently through her shroud of brown curls. Her attitude seemed confrontational. And over the years, although it always irritated her, Jeri had found this particular type of therapy had generally worked.
Defiantly raising her chin once more, Jeri responded more boldly, "No. I do not find it helpful. It is not my fault that bastard has turned our lives into chaos."
The therapist continued to stare critically at her client.
Jeri pressed together her angry lips and turned back towards the open window.
Sore, dry eyes resting on the private Los Angeles beach in which she had spent three of the most precious days of her life, the emotional young actress began to reminisce upon how it all began.
Her tear stained lips curved into a gentle smile, and she stared upwards into the sunshine…
"Ah, speak of the devil, here she is now…"
In the dark and bustling warehouse which was studio eighteen at Paramount pictures, three producers and a brand-new actress stood amongst the busying crew and equipment of the Star Trek Voyager set.
Jeri Ryan was twenty-nine, tall, curvaceous, with beyond shoulderlength thick blonde hair, dazzlingly blue eyes, and round, sumptuous lips. Everybody with eyes was glancing at her, and she smiled warmly and beautifully at every one of whom she was introduced, and many of whom she wasn't.
Already she had met more than several Voyager cast members, most notably the charming Robbie McNeill and his very handsome compadre Garrett Wang, who greeted her enthusiastically, bringing for her a breakfast of fresh cappuccino and croissant which she accepted graciously.
She laughed off Rick Berman's disparaging comment about how she should not make a habit of eating croissants for breakfast, and noted with concern the absence of introduction to Voyager's leading lady.
But she did not have to wait much longer for her introduction to the woman who played Captain Janeway.
Shortly after Robbie and Garrett's departure to make-up, when she found herself almost unexpectedly face-to-face with the cold eyes and unfriendly appraisal of forty-two-year-old Kate Mulgrew. Who had seemed to wonder nonchalantly around a corner and found herself in the direct sights of Jeri Ryan and the three producers.
Kate's unblinking eyes glared at the new Voyager cast member. And Jeri found her frostiness truly remarkable.
The smile she had worn all morning finally began to fall from her face as she beheld her beautiful but horrible new colleague.
Already dressed for filming in her trim Starfleet uniform, full hair and make-up, the older woman seemed to scowl at Jeri as she curved her lips into a false smile and the two women were formally introduced, shaking hands solemnly.
It was immediately apparent to Jeri that Kate did not want her there.
She certainly did not want to be in her presence for any longer than she needed to be, swiftly making her excuses to depart, and leaving Jeri embarrassed and confused and still in the company of the three producers. Who to her astonishment seemed completely unconcerned about their leading ladies disdain for the new arrival, and continued to treat Jeri with an airy lack of concern. The two male produces a little more obviously than the female producer, who had at least offered Jeri a brief, apologetic smile, before continuing as if nothing unpleasant had happened.
It had seemed that they had all expected Kate to behave in the way she had, and Jeri felt a great annoyance towards her new producers which she tried to forgive.
It was later that day when she discovered the secret of which the producers had managed to hide from herself and from her agent. The Voyager cast member Jennifer Lien, who had been on the show since its premiere three years prior, had not had her contract renewed for this new season of filming.
She had been let go. Her character had been written out of the series, to be replaced by Jeri herself, and the new character Seven of Nine.
In addition to Lien losing her employment to make space for a new actress, Voyager's leading lady, Kate Mulgrew, was said to be unhappy about the dismissal of an actress she had considered a friend.
But as filming began and as Kate and Jeri were required to film more and more scenes in close proximity to one another, nothing became more apparent to Jeri, and to those perceptive enough to notice the tension on set, than Mulgrew's utter contempt for the youthful good looks and sexual appeal for which Jeri had clearly been hired. And Jenny released.
Such was Kate Mulgrew's vicious judgement of her new colleague Jeri Ryan, and the fleet of make-up artists, hair stylists and costume makers and fitters who followed the younger woman around, delaying filming by constantly primping and perfecting Jeri's look, that fellow Voyager actress Roxann Dawson felt moved to apologise to the younger actress for their older colleague's rudeness and bullying.
Kate had sneered, scoffed, complained, rolled her eyes, clicked her tongue, tapped her feet, even lost her temper. Her transformation from mature, intelligent and compassionate middle-aged actress into jealous and discompassionate old wretch happened almost overnight. And Jeri received further apologies from the cast and even the one female producer, but nothing from the malcontent actress herself.
The contrast between Kate Mulgrew and her alter ego Kathryn Janeway was stark. And Jeri, a young woman with more intelligence and bravery than had been immediately perceived, far from feeling subdued by Kate's unpleasantness, finally lost her patience.
Knock. Knock. Knock.
Jeri Ryan rapped lightly on the door of actress Kate Mulgrew's private trailer.
The time was just after sunset and the young woman glanced surreptitiously around the cramped trailer park before wrapping her fluffy, grey dressing gown more tightly around her waist.
Hearing slow footsteps through the trailer, a short moment later the thin, metal door opened, and a weary looking Kate stared incredulously at her visitor.
"I would like to speak to you privately" Jeri said plainly, inclining her head towards the interior of Kate's trailer.
The older woman's lips began to curl into a sneer, before her eyes registered the deeply serious nature of her young colleagues demeanour and she relented. Her expression hardening, Kate stepped backwards backwards, allowing Jeri to step inside.
The door snapping shut behind her, the two women faced one another in the cramped and enclosed space, and said nothing.
Muffled voices from the outside were first to ease the silence, and Kate, becoming quickly impatient, sat down at her own small dining table where she had been studying a script, and did not invite Jeri to join her.
Jeri caught Kate's eye as she irritably stared back up, and the younger woman began to speak.
"... You have a problem. But it is not me."
Jeri continued calmly, but firmly.
"I am an actress. I got a job. I've worked hard all my adult life. And I have as much right to be here as you do."
Maintaining her silence, she watched as the younger woman removed her dressing gown to reveal the grey catsuit and matching Starfleet insignia combadge beneath.
Jeri tossed her dressing gown onto the seat that she had not been offered and stepped forward.
So as not to be intimidated by the tall and busty woman in her trailer, Kate got back onto her feet.
The two women stood less than a metre apart. And as the older woman looked up into her younger colleagues large eyes, the mood changed. So subtly that neither immediately realised it. But for the short moments stood in an intimate silence, there was a gradual relenting of both of their anger.
Jeri's voice became softer, and Kate's pupils widened as her fury for the younger, incredibly beautiful woman left her almost entirely.
"Do not blame me for Jennifer's dismissal. And please stop harassing me on set."
Her wide, light blue eyes shined light into Kate's.
The older woman's lips trembled. But she neither moved nor looked away.
Another feeling, a feeling which had been suppressed with rage and with jealousy, began now to blossom unimpeded through Kate's thoughts and senses.
It was a desire so rapturous that from the moment of its conception, around the very moment she had first laid eyes on Jeri before they had been officially introduced, she had fought its power and struggled against it.
Jeri was a woman. And a romantic interest in another woman could end her career.
She had therefore always denied herself this one, greatest pleasure.
She had two sons, a family and responsibilities. And Jeri herself was married.
But Jeri had brought sex to Voyager. A temptation Kate had always refused the producers, wanting to be recognised for her dramatic performance and not for her physical appeal instead.
So they had gone behind her back. And to Kate Mulgrew's great resentment, ratings for the show had risen since the younger woman's premiere episode.
She had however taken it as a personal insult when the younger actress was hired to supply the sex appeal. And so from the offset, she had despised the young actress. However much she had desired her. And however much an audience had also desired to see her.
But Jeri had been right. She was just an actress. Another woman like Kate who had sought fulfilling employment, and had gained it.
In addition, the character Seven of Nine did not appear to be solely in existence as a pleasure icon.
From Kate's own discussions with the screenwriters, Seven looked to become a very interesting character indeed. And that the curve-accentuating catsuit was not there to define the character of Seven of Nine, but simply to show the sexy younger actress at her visual best.
To make Voyager more visually appealing, as opposed to literally attempting to change the substance of the show from being family friendly Star Trek to sexy Star Trek.
This knowledge had irritated Kate even more. She had not wanted Jeri, or Seven to integrate or be successful.
And she certainly did not want the screenwriter's assurances that Seven of Nine would improve the character of Kathryn Janeway, by allowing the Captain to interact with a unique and challenging crewmember.
As far as Kate was concerned, she herself was the lead. And Voyager did not need the sideshow of Jeri Ryan to be successful.
But as ratings continued to rise, Kate had slowly began to accept that she was wrong. Although she would not admit this to anybody, least of all to the innocent actress of whom she had harassed and insulted herself.
And so in spite of all of her sourness and badtempered, irrational critique of the younger woman's significance and right to have a place in the Star Trek franchise, Jeri Ryan was still stood defiantly before her in her trailer.
Much like Seven of Nine would be to stand regularly in defiance before Janeway in her ready room. Challenging the older woman's decisions, and expectations.
Jeri had continued to stare into Kate's dark, blue eyes as the older woman silently considered her position.
Far from remaining cold and callous, Kate's eyes were now shining with a light and interest Jeri had not seen from her disgruntled colleague before.
On an impulse, Jeri took another small step forwards.
She could smell a change in Kate.
The older woman's breathing had shallowed, and she was perspiring.
It was not an unpleasant smell. On the contrary, it was more of a sweet, musky odour which further awakened the instinct which had taken control of the younger woman's decisions.
Closing the distance between them with one further small step, Jeri looked intently across Kate's pinkening face. The older woman's lips were open, and she had turned her head upwards to face Jeri's own.
Kate did not move.
Jeri could sense her fellow actresses quick, shallow breaths across her own opening lips.
Kate wanted her.
The young, unhappily married actress was amazed.
Very slowly lowering her head, Jeri felt Kate's body tense as she rested one soft hand upon the older woman's slender arm.
She thought vaguely that perhaps the reason she had never turned to hating Kate was because of the inexplicable desire she had continued to hold for the poison-tongued older, but still singularly beautiful woman.
Their lips met. And confident of her feelings, Jeri kissed Kate gently.
Kate whimpered, her limbs quickly weakening, and she staggered.
Catching the older woman around the hips, Jeri wrapped her arms around Kate's narrow waist and Kate reached to catch Jeri's soft face in her hands.
Kate finally embraced her passion and they began to kiss deeply. Wondrously. As if to be touched by the other had been the only thing they had wanted their whole lives.
Turning her wide, unfocused eyes from the sunlight, Jeri looked back into the dark eyes of her curly haired therapist.
"… I never enjoyed having to keep our relationship secret anyway..." Jeri began, walking back towards her clientele chair and grabbing and shouldering the large handbag which contained her new Voyager script, Timeless.
Turning towards the door, she spoke more to herself than to the woman she had paid to listen, "…I am in love with Kate. I hope she can still love me."
Chapter 3: Chapter 3
7 AM in front of studio eighteen and the already hot concrete ground thudded beneath the many footsteps of the staff, cast and crew of Paramount pictures.
Arriving half an hour late on set, a pale woman with dark sunglasses and a long, beige jacket stepped swiftly and silently through the many trailers.
Muttering her good mornings to those who greeted her, she finally surfaced from the shadows of the lattice of trailers and stepped into the sunlight.
Her clipped-back auburn hair glittered and freckles shone as she approached her destination; make-up.
Arriving at a long trailer with four, small, open windows of its very own, actress Kate Mulgrew pushed open the metal door and entered.
"Good morning my very dear friend…" Greeted Ethan Phillips warmly from the midst of his facial prosthetics. "Have some coffee, its fresh..."
The middle-aged actor sat stock still but with his friendly eyes shining back at Kate from his reflection in the large mirror. His female prosthetics artist turned briefly to smile kindly at Kate before returning to her careful work.
Turning her head towards the smell of coffee beans, Derek Sawyer, her main make-up artist, stood from a small sofa and began to quickly manipulate the various handles and levers of an enormous coffee machine.
"Take a seat honey..." The young man said with a smile, and dropping her script bag to the floor, Kate lowered herself onto the empty make-up chair in front of the panel of glistening mirrors, removing her sunglasses.
She stared at her sleep-deprived reflection, and winced inwardly with anxiety.
Yesterday and this morning had passed in a blur of distress, anger and confusion.
The news had broke of her love affair with her younger, female colleague over the weekend, and Jeri had called her at home on Sunday morning in a state of considerable dismay.
Soon after the article's publication, news bulletins appeared on the television, and Kate's own sons had discovered the truth about their mother's relationship with her fellow actress Jeri Ryan through the opines of broadcasters and commentators.
Both still in middle school, the two boys had been distressed by the allegations of homosexuality and indecency which were being made about their mother and both state is and national television.
On Sunday morning, reporters and photographers had began to congregate around the front of her house, and Kate had been made to supply her sons with a sudden and uncomfortable explanation of her actions along that private stretch of beach, and of the photographs which had been taken of her and Jeri.
As the coverage of her lesbian love affair continued into Sunday night, the boy's father had made a trip to the house and with heavy heart Kate had agreed the boys were to be removed from the media spotlight and were to stay for an indefinite time with their father.
A very tearful Kate had that night been comforted by her loyal, Latin American housekeeper and childminder, Lucy.
The following night, Jeri's appalled and embarrassed husband had threatened to leave with their four-year-old son but the distraught actress had begged that the child be taken instead to his paternal grandparents not far from their city home.
Agreeing to these temporary terms, Jack Ryan related to his estranged wife that he would be filing for divorce immediately and would soon be seeking full custody of the son.
He planned to move the child out of the state of California. Away from the "media circus" which would be sure to forever pursue his "morally corrupt mother".
Jeri was devastated. And having already attended one emergency appointment with her therapist that morning, she had made a second appointment late on Monday night.
She had promised to call Kate upon her return, and the two women spoke over the phone early into the morning.
But as the sun rose into a new day on Tuesday, the number of reporters and paparazzi outside her city home appeared to treble as every corner of the country became aware of lesbianism within the ranks of prime-time television.
The media representatives had yelled questions and crude assertions at her, photographing her as she fumbled with her keys to secure her house and to quickly get into her car.
The crowd of mainly men had surrounded her as she tried to reverse safely out of her driveway, and there had been more reporters and photographers upon her arrival at the studio car park.
Kate had spoken briefly again to Jeri on the phone before either of them had set off for work. That had been why the leading actress had been late.
Becoming fearful of the news that there was a horde of reporters and photographers outside of Jeri's residence, intimidating the young actress and making her afraid to leave her own home, Kate had called the police to Jeri's aid.
She had pleaded with a representative of the Los Angeles Police Department for officers to come to Jeri's assistance.
The LAPD representative on the phone had not deemed the situation of a young actress unable to leave residence due to a horde of men from the media upon her very doorstep worthy of their immediate attention, and it had taken all of Kate's energy not to scream expletives down the telephone.
In rage, she instead accused the officer on the other end of the phone of showing utter contempt for Jeri's plight and of the two women's situation in respect of the recent news, but her accusations of homophobia and sexism seems to entertain the police officer more than they did move him to action.
"Respectfully, ma'am, what did you expect?" Had been the younger man's retort, and never in her life had she felt so undervalued or discriminated against.
She had almost wept at these words. This was a question of a young woman's safety, her partner's safety, and the police seemed unconcerned.
Finally the officer relented, assuring Kate they would send a car or two to disperse the paparazzi, "who were just doing their jobs".
The exhausted actress then waited at home for Jeri's phone call to confirm she was safe and within the studio grounds, which she received an hour and a half later.
Kate had finally arrived back at Paramount Studios on Tuesday morning with quivering nerves and a body aching with stress. But her mind, to her amazement, was the sharpest it had been for many years.
Following a restless night, her fury in the early morning at the police for their nonchalance at Jeri's predicament, and the threats of reprimand and possible dismissal Jeri and herself were each facing from the studio owners and legal team in the coming days, Kate was becoming hardened to the reality of the new challenges they each faced.
Returning to the present, she gave a small smile towards the reflection of her fellow actor and friend, whom she knew had publicly supported her and Jeri's news.
Ethan's steady gaze communicated to her his solidarity, and she felt herself become suddenly emotional.
Being saved the necessity of locating her glass of water, Derek lowered a large cup of cappuccino into her agitated hands and turned up the strength of luminescence upon her face.
Blinking back the tears which had not yet formed, Kate's wide, blue eyes adjusted to the increased volume of light and she glanced once more at her pale complexion before staring into the depths of her creamy coffee.
She knew she would be ready.
Ready to face her bosses, her colleauges and her critics.
And if the media wanted a story, she would give them a story.
She would set the record straight and confirm that she was in a gay relationship.
She may even publicly described herself as "bisexual". That had been what she had explained to her sons, and that had been how she had always secretly identified since her teenage years.
Sampling her coffee, she pondered in silence, and tried to enjoy these few remaining moments of respite.
In a dark, discarded prop-strewn corner of studio eighteen, Jeri and Roxann sat together in old armchairs and in silence.
Lights and cameras focused upon a scene in a crashed and buried and fifteen years undisturbed sickbay, where Robert Picardo, Garrett Wang and Robert Beltran's characters were having a small, cold reunion.
The two actresses themselves were covered in fake snow and frost, and although the excess make-up was clearly bothering Roxann who was irritably trying to blink white powder out of her eyes, Jeri's frozen exterior simply reflected how she was feeling inside.
Far from the confident woman who had joined the Voyager cast, Jeri sat small and morose in the now powder-stained upholstery.
Jeri had remained distant all morning, but she had welcomed the presence of Roxann by her side.
Far from the rocky relationship of Voyager characters Lieutenant B'Elanna Torres and Seven of Nine on screen, Jeri and Roxann had become close friends during the time they had worked together, particularly in regard to solidarity in the face of Kate's unkind behaviour towards the younger woman.
Roxann was loyal and unintimidated by Kate. The leading actress and herself had been friends before Jeri's arrival, but in response to Kate's callousness and lack of professionalism when Jeri arrived at Paramount pictures, Roxann had began to distance herself from the older woman.
She had been as shocked as anybody else to discover that in fact Jeri and Kate had somehow seemed to forge a deep and romantic connection, despite Kate's unacceptable treatment of the younger actress initially and throughout Jeri's employment. But Roxann had quickly trusted Jeri's judgement and had supported both women when news of their love affair broke. Although Jeri did at first feel the need to insist to an understandably sceptical Roxann that Kate was truly sorry for her behaviour.
That Tuesday afternoon, Jeri had already been visited by two producers and three executive producers. She had refused to speak to all of them.
Actress Jeri Ryan was distressed and heartbroken, but she was also insulted by what she had deemed the "sexist and homophobic insults" of Rick Berman especially, referring as she spoke agitatedly to producer Jeri Taylor to the statements Berman had made on behalf of himself and of the studio in response to news of her and Kate's relationship.
Jeri had tearfully exclaimed to an executive producer later that morning that she would not speak to any of them in private until she felt less intimidated by the production studio, and until she had legal representation with her.
The mood that day on set had changed from one of diligence with smatterings of laughter, to one of tribalism and blame.
Jeri had been friends with everybody but now the blonde was very publicly at war with the production studio, and any friends she had could only approach her at their own risk, as choosing to remain friends with her would be choosing to stand against the studio.
But as threatening as Jeri Ryan's new romantic relationship was to Paramount pictures, significantly more interest and importance was still placed on the new relationship leading actress Kate Mulgrew would have to somehow manage to carve out with acrimonious studio bosses.
The decisions that Kate would make in the next few days would determine the future of Voyager for the remainder of the time the Star Trek series would be broadcast.
But what little had been seen of Kate on set that day had given little information away.
She stood in front of the cameras, she recited her lines perfectly, she held Jeri's hands whilst sharing whispered words of comfort to her, and then she left. Sometimes followed by an antagonised executive producer many cast members had never seen in their lives let alone seen on set.
As Paramount Pictures main investment in the series, Ms Mulgrew and her actions could still make or break the franchise, and bosses were eager to sway her to their way of thinking.
Being a cast or crew member of the Star Trek Voyager series had become equatable with being forced to hand an angry lesbian the keys to your car.
She would either drive everybody including herself over a cliff out of spite, or she would take you on the ride of your life. But to the dismay of Paramount Pictures, studio bosses had soon realised that it was too late to simply take the keys back off Kate. So they had been made to employ harassment and intimidation instead.
Kate had disappeared off set again, closely pursued by Rick Berman himself, and for one cast member, the temptation to make light of the situation of two "sex crazed" women "pretending they can hold the might of Paramount Studios to ransom" was just too much.
"None of this would have happened if one of you had just chosen me instead" guffawed Robert Beltran.
The once handsome actor had over the course of one and a half days became ugly with testosterone and arrogance.
Jeri winced, stiffening within the constraints of her corset as she shuffled to move away from the actor and his odour.
Roxann glared at Robert as he took a seat on a third armchair in front of the two women.
Wrestling down the hem of his spacesuit costume from his neck in an attempt to sit comfortably, the actor proceeded to spread his legs and lean in closer towards the appalled women.
Repulsed by his introduction and intrusion, each woman glared.
As his unkind smile widened, his dark eyes began to bore into them both.
Jeri squirmed further from him but Roxann looked at him with disgust.
Having been on a break from filming himself, Garrett looked uncomfortably upon the scene as the three actors sat in silence.
"So tell me what it's like…" Began Robert eagerly, folding together his fingers and leaning in towards an extremely agitated looking Jeri, "Must get pretty hot with all those breasts -"
"What!" Interrupted Garrett finally, stepping forwards to approach Robert as Roxann similarly jumped to her feet in fury.
"I'm just kidding - "groaned Robert, leaning back with his hands held in mock innocence in the air.
"You're disgraceful," condemned Roxann, the similarity to her character Lt Torres being stark and unrelenting, "You need to get out of here and sit in your trailer."
Smirking self-assuredly, Beltran rose slowly back to his feet.
Dramatically averting his eyes from Jeri's defensive and disgusted posture, he addressed Roxann, "You women are so sensitive…"
Brushing shoulders with Garrett as he left, the latter felt contaminated by his colleagues rudeness and sexism.
Garrett stood in angry silence for a long moment as Roxann sat back down. The young actor then began to apologise unreservedly to both Jeri and Roxann for Robert's behaviour, and for the existence of misogyny in general.
Under a glistening half moon suspended above a black sea, two actresses lay naked inside a bundle of soft blankets upon the seashore.
The sound of the ocean filling their ears, and the many stars above covering their eyes, it was difficult for each to know where the earth stopped and where heaven began.
Their skin sharing warmth and hearts beating in slow harmony, each woman wondered how such happiness could have come to her.
The days that followed from their first kiss were among the most contented of either woman's lives.
They laughed and they cried and they held one another.
Jeri's forgiveness came quickly to a Kate's who was undone with guilt at her mistreatment of the younger actress. And in a short time, both women began to open their lives to the reality of love and partnership with the other.
They each remained careful and alert.
Though it upset her to do so, Kate agreed to continue treating Jeri with apparent contempt on set. If she began to treat her any differently it would have caused suspicion.
And Jeri continued to listen without responding to Kate's various criticisms and pronouncements. Although she would do this with some enjoyment as she watched Kate fight to remain convincingly her old, very horrible self.
As actresses, however, to their unknowing friends and colleagues, they were each able to remain convincingly disgusted by one another.
Each day sunlight would fade to evening and having refrained from doing so all day, the two women would meet in the dilapidated restrooms which no one wanted to use that stood a short corridor away from the nice restrooms within the studio eighteen building.
They first made love under the dim, flickering lights of a narrow toilet cubicle only several small rooms away from the polished bathrooms of cast and crew without homosexual affairs to hide. And so when the warm sands and sunset of a private slice of Los Angeles beach was offered to them by Jeri's close male friend from college, neither woman could quite believe the change of scenery they were able to share.
Kate could not help but feel some concern for the position of exposure they would be in whilst together on an empty beach, but a strongly self-assured Jeri was able to reassure Kate of her college friend's trustworthiness and commitment to their safety.
After several hours of worry and scanning the beach parameter for eyes which should not be there, the older actress forced herself to try and settle. They would be looking over their shoulders for the rest of their relationship anyway, should it always remain secret.
Kate reconciled herself to this fact, and as she lowered her guard to enjoy the first of two nights with her younger partner by the rhythm and waves of the pacific ocean, the seasoned photographer who stood in black clothes in the shadows of distant trees took the explosive photographs which would help enhance his career.
"Star of Star Trek Kate Mulgrew Makes Love By the Ocean... to Female Co-star Jeri Ryan!
Exclusive pictures inside!..."
… Kate's thin body trembled as she stared into the beady blue eyes of producer Rick Berman.
In the low lights of his eyes she could see the same menace which had driven Jeri's jealous male friend to tell tales of lesbian affairs to the media.
But Berman wasn't jealous, or at least not obviously so. Rick Berman was angry, but nowhere near as angry as was Kate.
"It is not your decision to promote the gay agenda within this organisation," Berman thundered, with no attempt at decorum as the actress and producer stood head-to-head in the plush, studio producer office corridor of Paramount Pictures.
With a small audience of executives and important crew members forming close by them, the livid, middle-aged man continued, "Your antics have brought disgrace upon this company and upon the Star Trek franchise. Never have we experienced such scandal with any of your predecessors -"
"Women have sex, Rick" growled Kate, red-faced in Janeway's red tipped command uniform.
Still with bits of confetti stuck in her hair from filming a scene of celebration on the Voyager engineering set, Berman had interrupted filming to hold a private meeting with the leading actress, one he evidently thought would intimidate her into submission.
It hadn't. And the meeting, one of several Kate had been coerced into that day by various other producers and executives, had inevitably ended very abruptly and on bad terms.
"Shatner slept with hundreds of women on set, I slept with one, and I'M the disgrace?!"
"Jeri Ryan is a tremendous asset to this organisation -"
"Jeri is a woman not an 'asset'-"
"Seven of Nine is an innocent, she is not an object for her Captain to defile, and in pursuing a relationship with Miss Ryan you have transformed an innocent character into a slut, YOU, Kate, have single-handedly condemned this franchise! You are the first female Captain and you have been an absolute failure!"
Speechless for a long moment as the reality of the depths of his condemnation and insult came crashing down around her, Kate began to hear the murmurs of the crowd stood nervously around them. In doorways, reception areas and in open lifts. These people were all her colleagues and they had just witnessed Rick Berman humiliate her and label her girlfriend Jeri as a slut.
Her brows furrowed as doubt entered her consciousness. Berman was turning around, and swelling suddenly with a courage so strong it felt involuntary, Kate reached out and grasped the older man's forearm.
Disgusted, Berman yanked his forearm from her clutches, but as he straightened his crumpled sleeve, he was alarmed to see Kate's crooked smile gleaming back him.
"Seven of Nine is a grown woman, not an 'innocent', and certainly not a 'slut'…" Related Kate Mulgrew calmly and thoughtfully as Berman sneered at her and the crowd around them stood in shocked silence, "And now that I've made love to a woman I won't lay with a man again…"
The actresses face glowed with inspiration as her audience shifted uncomfortably at her admission. Her smile widened as she continued, "And that's really the beauty of the Star Trek franchise isn't it? Individuality, and inclusivity…"
Berman glared at the auburn-haired and bright eyed liability of a woman as she arrived at the indecent conclusion he knew she would.
He raised his chin and reeled inside as she declared in a commanding tone to the corridor at large, "Gene Roddenberry didn't put a black woman on the bridge to upset the racists. He did it to embrace diversity. And he would embrace me, and my female partner. He would be proud of us. Not afraid of us, or ashamed of us, as you are, Rick."
Straightening her uniform jacket, Mulgrew similarly straightened her posture and turning her back on the furious, male producer, she walked proudly back through the parting crowd towards the elevators.
Jeri sat clammy and hopeless in her trailer.
When Kate stepped inside, in stark contrast to her partner, the older woman appeared stunned with relief. Like a long, stranded seafarer who had finally, after many, many months and many hardships, found her way home.
She was pale, there was still some confetti in her hair, adrenaline was making her body tremble and her throat was dry.
But she was happy.
She had stood her ground in the face of the shamelessly sexist and homophobic Rick Berman. She had survived being publicly insulted by his words, and the experience of such intolerance had helped her come to realise an incredible truth.
Star Trek had always and would always be the right home for a couple such as herself and Jeri.
And that in fact, if they tweaked their perspectives just a little bit, they could each consider themselves lucky, honoured perhaps, to have the opportunity to let the world know it.
Yes there was soon to be custody battles over their three sons. But Kate found herself more concerned with what lessons the boys would learn from this period of fear and uncertainty in their lives.
Would they learn to treat women as equals and with respect? Or, like countless generations before them, would they come to believe that patriarchy ruled, and that women were incapable of independent thought, and were simply pawns in a man's world.
Looking into Jeri's dull, broken eyes, Kate knew the battle for custody of Jeri's four-year-old son would be their greatest and most emotionally wearing challenge.
And although her own two sons, who were each teenagers, had been angry and upset by her behaviour, they had been brought up educated and respectful of the gay community.
She was confident her son's would in time accept her. She hoped that they were only embarrassed, and not ashamed.
Moving to sit down quietly next to her young partner on the narrow sofa, she did not try to interfere with the younger woman's thoughts.
She placed a soft hand on Jeri's lap and caressed her lovingly.
Jeri lowered her head but remained silent.
Desperately despondent from a day spent contending with Robert Beltran's and others' misogyny and judgement, Jeri had retired to her trailer.
She was exhausted.
Roxann, Garrett and Robbie had remained loyal friends to her on set and had defended her against the unkind comments of several crew members, including a producer and an executive producer. But never in her life had she felt so weak.
Never had she been such a target for bullies, nor failed so miserably at the reality of coping with them.
Despondency had led to dreadful thoughts. She had imagined that her son would grow up to hate her.
She had imagined her career over, and worst of all, worse even than the loss of the love of her child, she had imagined that Kate would decide their situation as a lesbian couple was too difficult, and that the older woman would leave her.
Such was the depth of their unlikely love.
Sick at herself for feeling more concern for whether or not her girlfriend would still love her than her young son, Jeri had began to feel that she deserved to be experiencing such bitter sadness.
Feeling Jeri shift slowly towards her, Kate turned to see the anguished blonde stare beseechingly into her eyes.
Repositioning her body into the cramped sofa space, Kate wrapped her arms around Jeri as the younger woman began to whimper with emotion, clutching hold of Kate's small body and breaking down.
"… It's okay, honey…" Began Kate softly, stroking Jeri's clipped hair and struggling against her own emotion as she witnessed the younger woman's distress, "… We will fight this together…"
Jeri nodded gently against her ear before looking upwards again into Kate's face.
Each woman's eyes now wet with tears, their kiss was like the birth of a new star. Energising, and passionate, it brought brightness and hope to them both.
They could no longer hide in dingy trailers or dark corners, or private beaches with hidden dangers.
Their hearts beating faster and lips pressing in deeper, the two women sealed their love, and prepared to face the harsh world outside the trailer together.
Cussing and bustling in a large, uneven crowd outside the main gates of Paramount pictures stood an assortment of media reps, Star Trek fans, anti-gay protesters, children with anti-gay banners, security guards, and random onlookers.
An evening as bright as the glorious morning, Jeri and Kate stepped out onto the smooth ground of the studio building parade.
Large white walls of studio warehouses reflected sunlight back down onto them, the two women held hands in the clear light of day.
Their loose hair blowing gently in the breeze, their casual clothing wrapped them in some comfort as they passed colleagues and friends on their way to the gates.
Kate's ears ringing with subconscious warnings about public statements of lesbianism, her resolve strengthened as she felt Jeri's confidence begin to renew, the younger woman beginning to walk more purposefully towards the vultures at the gates.
The two women had agreed inside Jeri's trailer that that location would be a final place they would hide their love.
On their terms, they would allow themselves to be seen happy and by one another's side.
They were women, they were mothers, and they were lovers. And they had no need to hide their relationship from the world any more.
"Ms Mulgrew, are you a lesbian!"
"Ms Ryan, don't you care that your estranged husband may take your child!"
"Ms Mulgrew, aren't you worried your ex-husband may take your two children!"
"Ms Ryan, are you bisexual!"
"Actresses! Whores! God will not have mercy on you!"
"Ms Mulgrew, what do you say to the many Star Trek fans who are now offended by the series?"
"Ms Ryan, you were brought in to save the series, how do you feel now that you may have ruined it?"
"That's preposterous," began Kate, with an encouraging nod towards her now imperious looking partner and a tightening grasp of her hand, "Star Trek Voyager is now more popular than it has ever been, why, look at all this publicity!"
"Kate you are exposing my children to evil depravity -" choked a red-faced woman brandishing an exhausted and overheated looking toddler.
Kate looked at the small girl in her mother's arms, vaguely aware of cameras clicking and cameras rolling and reporters reporting all her and replied, "Your daughter will grow up and may become a leading actress in her own television series. I hope you will encourage her to follow her dreams…"
An immaculately disdainful looking Jeri gently let go of Kate's hand and began answering her own media and other enquiries. Her tone was calm but authoritative, "I am very proud to be part of the Star Trek family, where respect and inclusion are valued above all other things. That is the great meaning behind this franchise, that we are all different but we are all equal…"
"Jeri, I love you! Please don't be a lesbian!" Exclaimed one teenage fan in a mustard T-shirt embellished with the Starfleet combadge.
He received a raised eyebrow and a sympathetic look from Jeri in return but beamed at the acknowledgement.
When an older, male protester roared the words "Queer lesbian prostitutes!" at the two actresses, adding in a slur through his wiry beard, "Kate Mulgrew, the gay agenda is not a family value!" the teenager punched the older man clumsily and exclaimed, "Jeri, Kate, I love you both!"
Quietly approaching the entrance of Paramount Pictures and the media and spectator scrum which spilt onto the road came a small selection of producers and studio bosses.
When Kate heard the bitter, unharmonious tones of Rick Berman welcoming journalists and all other attendees to the gates of the renowned production studio, she paused in her response to the tenth or eleventh demeaning question she had answered within the space of two minutes, rejoining Jeri by her side.
Everyone present looked on as Berman spoke into the hanging microphones and camera lenses of every California news outlet representative, and many from out-of-state.
Kate and Jeri stood with quivering lips as the ignorant man spoke of "human decency" and "family values", "scandal" and "disgrace". And offered the studio's most profound apology for the "unethical behaviour" of two of its leading actresses.
Producer Jeri Taylor looked uncomfortably at Kate as producers Brannon Braga and Kenneth Biller scowled at both actresses.
Suddenly Kate felt Jeri's soft hand on her cheek, and silence grew around them as media tension climaxed…
Jeri's hot turquoise eyes spoke love to Kate's soul and the decision was made as one.
The two actresses kissed in front of a frenzy of onlookers, bystanders and LA's worst celebrity shit-stirrers.
Shrieks of outrage and a cacophony of excited reporter monologues, journalists questions and the cheers and jeers of fans and others applauding and opining into the electric evening breeze slowly faded into a neutral hum as the women's kiss deepened into a shameless snog.
Somewhere behind them Robbie McNeill was whistling loudly through his fingers, Garrett Wang, Bob Picardo and Ethan Phillips were applauding, and Roxann Dawson stood with Tim Russ smiling.
Somebody in the crowd tried to frisbee an anti-gay placard at the two embracing women, which spun sideways and hit Brannon Braga in the face.
Security stepped in to escort the scandalised producers and studio bosses back to the safety of the studio grounds, and the Voyager cast ran forwards to cocoon the two women in a protective group hug, home-made placards and water bottles flying around them as studio security bellowed for the dispersal of all media and spectators.
Chapter 4: Chapter 4
They kept her corset intact, only loosening it slightly so she could breathe.
Jeri's sparkly, mauve biosuit hung limply over her hips, her long arms and neck exposed, and Kate's hand tucked snugly beneath the fabric over her crotch.
It wasn't a perfect arrangement and movement was restricted, but the older woman's slim fingers managed still to delve in places Jeri would still dream of, and their gentle rhythm was tender, and constant.
It was a long and slow ascension to orgasm for Jeri that afternoon, and their sweating and heavy breathing did not do wonders for their hair and make-up.
Fortunately there was a sympathetic make-up artist.
The young woman who managed Ethan Phillips' prosthetics, upon happening one earlier afternoon on the post-coital actresses looking slightly worse for wear and only minutes away from being due on set, supplied the women with miniature make-up kits, tailor-made for their characters, for use in preparation for such circumstance happening again.
Having an older sister who was a lesbian in the American military, Rochelle Abrams understood the insult and occasional torment caused by institutionalised homophobia.
Her sister had seen her opportunities for promotion curbed with her superiors citing her homosexuality as inconducive to positions of power within the military command structure.
"How can your subordinates take you seriously when they know that you sleep with other women? You're a joke"
Private Shauna Abrams almost wept as hard that day as she did when she had witnessed her best friend and comrade in arms, Becky "Birdie" Sanderson, blown up by a landmine.
Shauna had felt utterly humiliated, and devastated.
Rochelle had received the letters her sister had sent from her army base and had been similarly distressed and indignant on behalf of her sister for the insult and discrimination she had suffered.
Following Kate and Jeri's cruel betrayal to the media, neither woman would so readily trust an offer of safety or sanctuary again. But when Rochelle introduced herself to Kate as the sister of a lesbian who had suffered similar degradation, and offered the two women make-up sets which would ensure they were able to fix their make-up before returning to set, an act which would require thieving high-quality studio make-up and thus risk gambling her career as a make-up artist to television stars, both actresses acknowledged that her concern was genuine.
"And there are better places to go than those old restrooms," began the long, black haired make-up artist furtively at Kate as each woman passed slowly by the water-cooler, handing her an inconspicuous-looking Walmart shopping carrier containing the illegal make-up, "My ex-boyfriend and I used to pay visits to the darker end of one of the large, store wardrobes. I mean, you may find another couple at it in there, but they will want their privacy as much as you, and there are plenty of places to hide in there…"
Glancing playfully with her large, golden brown eyes into the actress' grateful face, Rochelle added, "Having sex at work can be a pain in the ass, can't it?"
Worrying briefly Rochelle's story still might be part of an act, Kate considered the possibility the makeup in question could be laced with an irritant or with poison.
The idea seemed so preposterous that Kate was ashamed of herself. She always knew the younger woman had a sister in the military. And she had heard rumours that the wardrobes were used as secret hook-up places, simply because they were such a maze to navigate, and parts of them were long since neglected.
Four hours later, Kate and Jeri found themselves in the deepest, muskiest part of Wardrobe 4, in a small, artificially lit corner behind a long rail of old, extravagant costumes, possibly made to fit pirates, kings, queens and aliens, and next to a large pile of discarded bits of material.
Kate's bare foot was resting on a large, prop treasure chest, her naked leg bent as Jeri knelt below her, her forearms wrapped around her thighs and soft hands grasping her hips from beneath Janeway's grey shirt.
Her corset now hung so loosely over her waist that her breasts were overflowing and the pink of her nipples were visible beneath the hem of the aggressive looking black garment.
Kate was naked from the waist down and her red-tipped command jacket was similarly discarded.
They had been in the wardrobe now for about twenty minutes. They would be missed. But work was at the back of their mind's…
The swipes and waves of the younger woman's hot tongue sent pulses of ecstasy through Kate's sex and into her chest and limbs. One hand next to her mouth as she attempted to weakly stifle her own moans, Kate's other hand ran ravishly through Jeri's loose, golden hair, her long fingers curling in the warm strands with each, rapid surge of exhilaration.
The women both knew they had maybe been foolish in getting so carried away whilst at work. And neither knew how on earth they were supposed to fix Jeri's hair back into Seven of Nine's conservative clip. But they were each feeling reckless, and resentful.
Fifteen minutes after Kate had peaked, and after a quick attempt at re-insertingJeri into her corset, and after reapplication of mainly lipstick and foundation, the actresses reappeared on set and no questions were asked.
The media storm around news of their relationship had caused viewing figures for Star Trek Voyager to skyrocket. And whether or not that was caused by lesbian controversy, extramarital affairs or child custody battles, Paramount Pictures bosses had dropped the legal action they had threatened against the two leading ladies.
The evidence seemed to show that having a lesbian couple starring in their flagship television series did not harm viewing figures in the slightest.
In one week, Star Trek Voyager had become the most successful of all the Star Trek franchises. And in a month Kate Mulgrew, whether through fame or infamy, had become the sex symbol she had always avoided.
Her relationship with the younger actress had provoked a tsunami of criticism and condemnation, but it had also sealed her status as both a tremendously popular starship captain, and a middle-aged woman owning her sexuality for all the world to see.
For many, Jeri Ryan's angelic looks were unrivalled, but the elegant Irish beauty of her older partner was by many more considered even more attractive.
Voyager's episode slot had not been removed or adjusted by UPN. And just as homophobic fans and families tuned off, vowing never to watch the female captain flying her ship of sodomy anywhere ever again, multiple more fans were made as the country and the world took interest in the story of the gay captain and her lover.
There were even television programmes being made focusing solely upon "Rick Berman, boldly going where no man can ever go again" in regard to the assertion that he alone would be the last man who could influence either Kate and Jeri.
Such programs would conclude, whether warningly or humorously, that once lesbianism is tolerated, it is a force unstoppable.
And through this newfound popularity, Kate and Jeri could arrive on set after sex and be late, and that would be okay because the two actresses were now the studio's biggest money spinners.
Respectful of their friends and colleagues however, arriving to set late was not something they were to make a habit of. Nor was sex in the wardrobe department.
Berman, and the remaining producers and executives left the women alone, and everything was almost back to normal.
But the media coverage was heavy and relentless. And Kate was reminded uncomfortably of the former Princess of Wales, Diana Spencer, who had been killed as she was pursued dangerously by photographers who had caused the fatal car crash which had killed her and her lover.
Jeri was being pursued aggressively by reporters and paparazzi determined to get information regarding the custody battle between her and Jack Ryan over their four-year-old son, Alex.
Apparently, the story of whether an adulterous lesbian wife could win custody of her young son over the child's innocent, heterosexual father was one of national interest.
News outlets would follow her in her car with their own broadcasting vehicles, reporters would shout personal questions out to her through the gates of the car park, the gates of the studios, and by the gates of Kate's own house where the younger actress had relocated.
But the most difficult of all were the photographers who, in pursuit of an umflattering photograph which may display her as a woman unhinged, would insult her with words such as "bad wife", "whore" and "bad mother" for the sole purpose of provoking an angry response.
During these times, Jeri would maintain a stalwart attitude and face. She was already growing numb against this particularly cruel and cowardly form of bullying, and as much as photographers and reporters tried, they could get no information nor display of anger from the young actress.
Kate, on the other hand, was making some progress in so far as her own children were concerned.
Her ex-husband Robert Egan had accompanied their teenage sons, Ian and Alex, to dinner at her home.
Tempering his own frustration at the situation as best as he could, he sat patiently and in silence as the two boys shared with their mother their anger and concerns.
Kate spoke patiently with her son's, who were indeed more frustrated at how the news of their mother's relationship had reached them, rather than the news itself. Although they were deeply embarrassed that she was photographed making love to Jeri on the beach.
Kate acknowledged that this was poor judgement on her and Jeri's behalf, and she apologised to her son's for embarrassing them in this way.
Once the boys had accepted her apology, she asked them if she could introduce Jeri to them and after a few moments hesitation, they both agreed.
The evening continued with the beautiful young actress Jeri Ryan, who was first and foremost a regular woman, and a mother, meeting the children of her beloved partner, and not being able to introduce her own son in return.
Jeri was calm and gentle and the boys took to her almost immediately. But when the evening was over and the two boys were leaving to go back to their father's house, Alex, Kate's younger son who shared a name with Jeri's only child, asked anxiously of his mother, "Will Jeri not be allowed to see her son anymore now?"
The question had plagued Kate constantly over the past few weeks.
Jeri's love was passionate but increasingly it had been tempered by deep, deep sadness.
She had never wavered in her affection towards Kate or in her desire to be close to her older partner. But Kate knew that she was in a relationship with a partner whose heart was breaking.
The devastation she felt at having her son potentially moved to another state was killing her, and yet, she remained capable of working and of loving.
When the LesbianGay Alliance invited the couple and their guests to an event being held near Venice Beach, Jeri agreed without hesitation, but Kate was reluctant.
Their relationship had been making news for over a month now and the LGA was hosting a large dinner and fundraiser for LGBT families and their friends and guests who had supported them.
Kate thought it was rather tactless of the organisation to invite the two actresses when they knew that Jeri was at the start of what was sure to be a long and very painful child custody battle with her estranged husband. But Jeri saw it differently.
"They're inviting us because although our... joint family is broken, we are still both mothers, and they reckon we should meet other families like our own…"
Reclining by the modest swimming pool atop of Kate's large, fruit-tree filled garden, the two women rested in the warm night breeze.
Having taken a late-night swim, Kate lay in her swimming costume and wrapped in a large towel on one cushioned chaise lounge, a small glass of red wine on the table by her side.
Her mouth was open to speak but for several moments she could not think what to say.
To her embarrassment she hadn't given much thought to Jeri and herself forming a family. But of course, if their relationship continued, and Kate wished very much it would continue until the end of her days, and if Jeri continued to live at her home, then that would make Jeri a form of the stepmother to her two boys.
When she remained silent for a while, sinking deeper into contemplation, Jeri turned to look her.
"… I would like to go and meet these families, Kate…"
Kate looked into the steady eyes of her partner and understood.
Shifting herself into a more upright position, she took her wine glass and continued to gaze at the blonde haired beauty who wore only her pyjamas and a small smile.
"… Shall we invite the boys to join us?" Asked Kate.
On a warm evening in California, on Venice Beach and by the breeze of the pacific and the smoke of bonfires, revellers, reporters, drag acts and doomsday protesters sang, danced, declared and conjectured to the news of the imminent arrival of the lesbian celebrity couple.
To Kate, the reception was shocking and overwhelming. But Jeri seemed unfazed, as if her mind was elsewhere.
The two teenage boys who arrived with their mother and her girlfriend in the private car saw the crowds and heard the yells and were nervous.
"They never told us this was going to be some sort of party…" Began Kate irritably, unwittingly making her teenage sons more anxious.
"… Well let's just have fun," said Jeri warmly, smiling at the two boys and then back at Kate, "The food is bound to be good at least..."
Jeri's voice tailed away to make room for a new sound.
Cheering. Whistling, hooting. Applauding. Some jeering. Drums beating. Cars beeping. A dog barking.
Kate squirmed and looked more annoyed, "I wish they wouldn't…"
Ian turned to his mother, "… It's okay, mom...", his dark eyes stared with understanding at hers, "They're proud of you…"
Immediately Kate's eyes began to burn and she turned away from her son.
Ian looked briefly up at Jeri before refocusing on the large-looking venue ahead of them.
Kate's younger son Alex turned to Jeri and inquired, "I'd like to meet your son Alex…"
The statement was so unexpected that Jeri took a short moment to register it.
But before the young mother could respond, and before Kate could form an explanation or apology for her son's mind's wonderings, the slowly moving car had stopped, and to Kate and Jeri's utter astonishment, a welcoming party including fellow Star Trek actors Patrick Stewart, Nichelle Nichols and Majel Roddenberry, had exited the rainbow-spangled entrance to greet them.
"Welcome, welcome!" Greeted Nichelle, as Jeri pushed open the door onto the sidewalk and stepped out before the open arms of the original series actress. "Welcome, thank you so much for coming…" added Majel, as the two, beautifully dressed actresses moved to embrace both Kate and Jeri each in a hug.
Handsomely dressed and with a warm and welcoming smile, Patrick inclined his head kindly towards Kate's sons, "Good evening boys..."
Introducing them to another gentleman, "This is my close friend Ian. He is a fellow Shakespearean actor from England. In fact he has just been cast as Magneto in the new X-Men live-action movie. Filming starts in a few weeks…"
"… I like X-Men…" Piped up Alex, "And his name is Ian as well…" he added, jerking his head towards his silent older brother.
"… I like X-Files…" Shared Ian, warming to the presence of the Star Trek veterans and the warm reception of the crowds who stood behind two short lines of security guards, "But I like X-Men as well…"
The evening passed pleasantly, they were introduced to other families, children and a smattering of celebrities, and on arriving home at just past 1 o'clock in the morning, none of them had a significant word of complaint.
The boys went to bed full of good food and good memories. Ian McKellen hadn't been the first new celebrity whose acquaintance they had made. Others including X-Files star Gillian Anderson had attended to show support to the many LGBT parents and families of whom nothing less than a banquet had been prepared, courtesy of donors.
Celebrations, scattered protests and media coverage outside the venue continued throughout the night.
By the morning, multiple arrests of protesters and revellers who had come to blows had been made. And an exhausted Jeri who had lain awake all night, meditating upon this new reality and the price she had paid for it, waited anxiously for Kate to wake up before sharing a decision she now felt obliged to make.
"I have to leave the show. If Jack is going to take Alex out of state, then I have to be where my baby is."
True to her word that following Monday morning, Jeri and her lawyers arranged to meet with Jack and his.
Kate sat alone in her trailer.
How could she stop this from happening, how could she ensure Jeri was not separated from her son? These and many more questions she asked herself as in sadness she prepared for a new weeks filming without her partner.
Chapter 5: Chapter 5
"Well, personally Stacey, I just see this as a father trying to ensure the safety and well-being of his impressionable young son"
"So you don't think this counts as kidnapping?"
"Absolutely not. The child is only going to be taught how to lie and how to disregard the word of God by this actress. And the father isn't putting up with it, I mean, as a father myself, I wouldn't put up with it"
"So you believe that he has done this in order to save the child from whatever moral implications a continued relationship with his mother would bring to his life as he grows up?"
"First of all, this isn't "the child", it is "his" child. And secondly, Stacey, as this child's father it is his responsibility to ensure that his child is raised in a moral and Christian household. And if that means removing the child permanently from his adulterous, homosexual mother then so be it…"
"Darla, what do you think of Jack Ryan disappearing with his son? This is illegal isn't it, this is kidnapping"
"Well, Henry, I think it's disgraceful. And if that man thinks he will be allowed to keep the child after this then he's got another thing coming. It is reckless and irresponsible and I can only hope that the child is safe"
"Professor Leila Phillips, you're an expert in family law, and you've been involved in many, many child custody cases. What do you think of the actions of Jeri Ryan's husband and do you think that him taking the child without his mother's consent will affect his chances of winning full custody of the four-year-old child?"
"I think before we can even contemplate what will happen in court, authorities need to establish the location of the child and get him back to Los Angeles so that he can be reunited with his mother.
God only knows the distress and the worry that young actress is going through right now. And she does not deserve it. She had an affair. But she does not deserve to have her child stolen from her, and that child does not deserve to be put at risk by a father hellbent on revenge"
"Josh, you were saying before that Paramount bosses had a real fight on their hands this week after Jeri refused to turn up for filming. This was after all the criticism that her and fellow actress Kate Mulgrew had received at the studios own hands, and now it seems that the studio is paying for it.
How do you think the television show Star Trek Voyager can survive now if Jeri Ryan doesn't come back, and do you think that her partner Kate may end up quitting the show as well?"
"I don't think Kate will quit but without Jeri, the show may be dead anyway…"
On various television sets placed at random around the warehouselike building of studio eighteen, the cast and crew of Star Trek Voyager listened to breaking news regarding their absentees colleague's young son, who had reportedly been taken out of state and to an undisclosed location by his father, Jack Ryan.
In the large, expensively furnished office of Paramount Pictures chief executive, producers and directors were desperately trying to formulate ideas for how they could convince "key asset", Jeri Ryan, who they had criticised and humiliated and taken entirely for granted, to return to filming.
In an unfurnished apartment in Seattle in Washington state, four-year-old Alex Ryan was asking his father where his toys were, and whether his mother would be visiting soon.
Alone in her trailer with her own news however, Kate Mulgrew did not know to call her partner Jeri, who wept alone and in anguish in their bedroom.
Oblivious to the younger woman's worsening plight, Kate sat in tremulous excitement.
She also had news.
"Stay where you are. She will call you on this number shortly after I hang up."
Aged twenty-two, Kate had given birth to a baby girl out of wedlock, and upon her own mother's advice, given the child up for adoption.
This had been a decision she had regretted almost immediately afterwards, but there had been no reprieve. The Catholic organisation to which she had surrendered the child had not allowed the desperate and heartbroken young mother to be reunited with her baby.
Many years and enquiries and private investigations later, twenty-one-year-old Danielle Gaudette had similarly enquired as to the whereabouts and identity of her biological mother.
Having been absent from the set for a week, Jeri Ryan's character Seven of Nine had been hastily written out of the episode which was currently being filmed and Kate had lamented Jeri's absence, but never more so than at that moment.
She was desperate to share what she hoped would be very good news with her younger partner this evening therefore.
But as she waited in a sort of emotional limbo, unsure whether her daughter would indeed call her as the adoption reconnection agency had indeed promised, and unsure whether indeed she deserved to be happy after wilfully giving up her child and now having a chance to reconnect with that child, Kate felt Jeri's soothing presence in the glittering dust motes and in the warm evening air.
Jeri's presence would soothe and comfort her. But she would also feel her judgement...
As the younger woman spent her time hooked to the phone at Kate's home and rooted to the spot in the offices of her and Jack's lawyers, fighting what felt like a losing battle for the right to maintain close contact with her only child, Kate sat in awe of the world, still wondering how it was possible that she could soon be rebuilding a relationship with the daughter she had long ago surrendered to strangers.
The shrill sound of the ringer rang. Kate's heart stilled. It then raced.
A weak hand lifted the receiver.
Her throat was dry but her voice was gentle.
There was a momentary pause in which Kate felt her heart had stopped completely. Then another voice spoke...
"…… Is this Kate?"
The young woman on the phone similarly spoke softly but with an air of youth and interest.
"Hi honey…" Kate gushed weakly in response.
Tears rushed to fill Kate's eyes as her voice broke away. She fought to maintain composure. Her heart raced, body trembled and her expression contorted. Already she feared she had made a mistake in calling Danielle "honey"and she chastised herself silently.
"… Hey…… How are you?" Came the youthful voice nervously a second time.
Beginning finally to grin wider than she felt her face could tolerate at the sweet sound of her lost daughter's voice, Kate stifled her sobs and began her first conversation with her already grown-up birth daughter.
"I'm good, baby… I'm really good, how are you doing?"
"… I'm okay……"
Her mind flooding with questions and pronouncements, Kate's expression fell to one of extreme sorrow as she prepared herself to apologise for the first time for the decision she had made as a young actress.
Simultaneously sweating and shivering, Kate began, "… Danielle, honey I'm so sorry, I -"
Her chest heaving with emotion, she was interrupted.
"I've been fine… I have a great family… I have a sister who was adopted as well… W- we have all been really happy… "
The young woman's voice faltered a little bit but her tone was confident and strong.
However her interruption suggested that she did not want to hear an apology at this time.
Kate wanted to weep. Her heart had swelled with happiness but had broken with guilt.
The relief she felt at knowing that the child she had in her heart called "Phoebe" had been raised by a family who had loved her and cared for her, as she and her then partner had each refused to do, felt both overwhelming and devastating.
She was jealous of the twenty-one years she had missed. And she hated herself for her jealousy. But she had chosen to pursue an acting career without the inconvenience of having a child, and her choice to surrender Danielle had been a selfish one.
Allowing the baby girl to leave her care, she felt she had not only deprived Danielle of a biological mother but had put her at risk of being adopted by monsters. But from the young woman's own words, she was happy. And the only part Kate had played in her happiness was by removing the newborn Baby Girl Mulgrew from her life.
"… I'm so pleased, honey…… I really, I…"
As Kate struggled to continue a conversation where she wanted to say and explain so much, but knew it was too early and that it was not the right time, Danielle helped her out. From the sound of scuffles over the phone, she had with feeling the young woman was not alone.
"… I've seen that I have two young brothers. What are they like?"
Kate blinked and wondered unintelligently how Danielle could have discovered this information as the young woman elaborated, "I've seen them on TV… I've not seen everything… It was actually my friend who recognised you… Well, she recognised your face…"
Slowly Kate began to understand. She fell mute with utter embarrassment, burying her face in her hand.
"… I've not seen Star Trek Voyager but I've seen pictures of Seven of Nine……… And I saw pictures of the both of you… You guys look very pretty…"
Her face wet from her silent streams of tears, Kate removed her hand from her mouth.
Danielle was very chatty. Perhaps she was nervous, Kate wondered, but it suited her just fine as she took long pauses to compose herself, struggling not to whimper into the phone.
"… Your brothers are wonderful. And they've been looking forward to meeting you since they were children……" related Kate delicately.
Taking several more deep breaths, she continued, "Would that be something you would be interested in doing, meeting your brothers… Meeting me…?"
Kate suddenly felt extremely apprehensive as though she had just made another mistake.
She hastened to clarify her meaning.
"Of course honey, I'm not trying to rush things, I just meant, when you were ready maybe… Maybe you would like to meet us…"
"…… Can I bring my boyfriend?"
Kate laughed, her face sodden but glowing with happiness. She forgot the multiple dimensions of her guilt and simply embraced the feeling of joy which had came over her.
"Honey, you can bring as many boyfriends as you wish…"
Still smiling when she eventually came to ending the telephone call, Kate wondered what she had done to deserve such happiness.
"…… Wait a second, Kate?"
"Yes, Sweetie" the actress replied, gleaming, eager to tell her partner Jeri her news in spite of the younger woman's less than happy situation, "… What is it honey?"
".... I've just glanced at the news... It's about Jeri's son..."
Chapter 6: Interlude
The haze of slow descending autumnal air was not noticed by Kate who sensed only spring and the blossoming of new life.
Amazed by their luck at finding a flower garden free from tourists and most other visitors, the two women stepped softly down the winding paths of the sculptured botanical reserve with eyes and minds wide open to the possibilities ahead.
The pinks, purples, yellows and greens of every lush plant and hanging tree formed a haven for the susceptible mind, but to the sceptic and to Jeri, every stem and succulent told a tale of warning.
Flowers bloomed and died, leaves similarly, and this growth and death was all necessary for life to begin again.
But the small plants, flowers and trees in this garden where disease.
Perhaps Kate was not a gardener, Jeri pondered, noticing tiny portions of decay on the stems of the prettiest flowers. And larger areas of decay on the largest trees.
Maybe her eyesight was compromised.
It was the evening and there were natural shadows over and among the leaves and branches, over and under the petals and across the drying soil.
The air was sweet with a perfume of so many magnificent petals. But Jeri sensed an odour of rot amongst it.
Her expression slowly contorted as it began to feel like a stench.
"It's perfect, isn't it?"
Kate's red hair glowed in the dying sun as her wide, shining eyes beheld the light of her life.
To Kate, Jeri's beauty was beyond this world.
The younger woman was the centerpiece of this exquisite garden. Her blonde hair was the sun and her eyes were every universe rolled into one.
Jeri emanated beauty and freedom. And in that moment, Kate's amor was such that the younger woman's discomfort was imperceptible to her.
And unwilling for there affair to end, Jeri chose not to inform Kate the wiser, smiling gently at her in response.
The truth was that Jeri saw the outwardly beautiful, but decayed and dying garden as a reflection of her relationship with the older woman.
And Jeri was regrettably reminded of the unpleasant start of their acquaintance, when she joined the Voyager cast.
Maybe they were each so distracted by the speed of a sudden romance that they hadn't really considered what's the costs may be.
They could have something close to a perfect life in secret but there was no way in this day and age of media and publicity that their romance could possibly stay secret. It was difficult enough for heterosexual celebrity couples to have privacy. What would it be like for two women ...
Birds twittered and car engines rumbled in the short distance.
Kate's hand slipped into hers. Not enquiring at all as to why her young partner had remained silent, the older woman's gentle hands started riding up the skin of her arms, smoothing her lovingly as she smiled into her brooding blue eyes.
"... Perfection... That is what you are..."
Kate spok in a whispered rasp which usually stirred Jeri's senses, making a desire too persistent to ignore.
And Jeri suddenly realised that Kate was in fact acknowledging her silence.
But it had been misconstrued.
Kate wasn't a fool. She know her young partner had been anxious about fidelity. Loyalty to her husband, and to their family.
What she didn't know was just how scared her young partner was of how they were soon to be unwilling media-fodder.
And how this may have repercussions which neither of them would think possible.
"... Perfection..." Kate purred a second time , hands gliding onto Jeri's shoulders and collar.
Kate's touch very gradually began to work it's magic upon Jeri.
The younger woman slowly lowered her resistance and started to enjoy the sensation of touch more and more.
The evening sun began to blaze and Jeri pondered weakly how she had made it through tough times before.
Moving further into Kate's touch and caressing the older women's arms and torso slowly in return, Jeri slipped further into denial, insisting to herself that the powers that be would never part her from her son.
She was his mother.
Curling her cheek into Kate's palm and inhaling the thick perfume of the diseased flower garden, her eyelids became heavy with a desire which she knew would have a high and terrible cost.
But whatever battles which would soon come, they would face together.
Two captain's upon uncharted waters. With hell as the limit.
Chapter 7: Chapter 7
"I stand before you a white, middle-aged man. I am a divorcee and I'm also engaged to be married, to a woman, within the next year. We hope.
I have two children to my previous wife. And our marriage of more than twenty years broke down due to lack of communication. Unrealistic expectations. And the gradual dissipation of our romantic love.
No matter what happened between my ex-wife and myself, our children were always kept separate. Because children should never be used as weapons.
No matter if your heart, or your pride, is broken, our children are innocent and must remain innocent.
In my country, as in many others, child abduction is a criminal offence.
And I am appalled to learn that it is not treated as such here.
Or perhaps, this is a special case.
As so many right-wing commentators, lawmakers and law enforcers have suggested, "Homosexuality is a crime for which the 'innocent' must be saved"…
But Jack Ryan wasn't saving his son from an evil, criminal mother. He was saving his pride from the wound of adultery.
By kidnapping Alex, Jack Ryan tore open a mother's heart. And by this court ruling in favour of such a selfish father, by granting permission for Mr Ryan to live permanently with his and Jeri's son outside of the state of California, a very great injustice has stained the reputation of US family law.
Our patriarchal society has historically treated women as second-class citizens, and so a lesbian woman would have no chance at being treated with anything resembling fairness, acceptance, or even with dignity.
Jeri, if you are watching this broadcast, please, please come home..."
Patrick Stewart stood pale-faced and anxious in front of the television camera.
Like so many others, he was very fond of the young actress and had had many pleasant and insightful conversations with her.
Pausing for a long moment, he continued "... Your friends and your family miss you. Your son still needs to you.
You are not alone. We can find this together…
Please come home, Jeri…"
On July 31st 1998 actress Jeri Ryan disappeared.
Due for an emergency therapy session that evening, her therapist reported to police that the vulnerable young actress did not attend.
Twelve hours later and nobody had seen or heard from Jeri and the Los Angeles police department declared her officially as a missing person.
Having expected a call from Jeri the late evening following her therapy session and not receiving it, Kate instead received a phone call from the therapist inquiring if she knew of Jeri's location and condition.
Blind panic and many frantic phone calls later, Kate was left reeling from the reality that nobody knew where Jeri was.
No one had seen or heard from her all day and attending her colleagues house, Roxann Dawson held the older actress firmly in her arms as Kate's imagination took her to places she could not escape, as without answers to Jeri's location or to Jeri's fate, Kate and many others had quickly began to think the worst.
Inevitably catching wind of the alarming new situation with 'troubled actress' Jeri Ryan, the insatiable media lead Los Angeles and later the whole United States into a state of high alert, never ceasing in commentary, backstory, analysis and updates surrounding the developing situation of the missing actress.
Disoriented and despairing, Kate Mukgrew was joined by Roxann and many other friends and colleagues as they searched the city and coast of Los Angeles and beyond for Jeri.
Out of respect and to highlight breaking news of the disappearance of actress Jeri Ryan, Star Trek TNG star and LGA ally Patrick Stewart, along with a selection of Voyager stars and other celebrities, recorded messages broadcast in a plea for the safe return of the young actress.
These recordings were played on a wide selection of networks and on different news channels.
Voyager episodes were temporarily cancelled by UPN to be replaced by messages of concern and appeal by Jeri's colleagues and friends.
Two days after the disappearance of Jack Ryan and Alex Ryan, Mr Ryan had finally made the decision to inform his lawyer and the police of the location and condition of himself and his son.
Safe and out of the state of California, he explained to the authorities that it had been his intention to permanently save his son from exposure to the degeneracy of his perverted mother, and her equally perverted female lover.
A whirlwind lawsuit and sympathetic conservative judge and jury later decided that Mr Ryan was quite justified and correct in his actions.
The mother who had publicly wept and pleaded for the return of her young son was beyond despair.
The media swarm which pursued the frantic and tormented young actress from Kate's home, to the offices of her lawyers, to the court room, and back to Kate's home were ferocious and unrelenting.
Entirely unconcerned for the human story behind the news story they were reporting, men, and some women, with cameras and notebooks and microphones narrated the tale of 'homosexual adulterer' Jeri Ryan's life upheaval.
Increasing her distress to the point of her breakdown, media commentators had upon all networks and outlets judged, "Jeri Ryan would rather attend gay parties on the beach than fight for custody of her young son… Jeri Ryan is an adulterer who isn't fit to be a mother as well… Homosexuals should not raise children... Jeri Ryan is an actress in the public domain and we have the right to expose her actions and report on her life… "
She had lived and she had lost.
The battle was fought and lost.
Without her son she did not want to go on.
With only his father, her son would grow up to become his father. And that was her fault.
Her connection to her child was lost and she would never be able to retrieve it.
She still had Kate and she had romance. But these things meant nothing without the presence of her child as well.
Kate fulfilled her every intimate wish. And she was kind and caring and a good mother.
Jeri had thought she too was a good mother.
Now she was only a lover, and a failed mother.
And that was unacceptable.
She owed Alex more than life with an absentee, adulterous and selfish mother.
It would be better if he had no mother.
She stepped into the water.
Alex would have a home with his father and there would be no endless "media circus".
She stepped deeper.
There was no other way forward.
She had failed at this life and she had failed her son.
Water crept over her waist and dragged down her clothes.
She took two last steps and immediately began a heavy breaststroke.
She hated herself for the legacy she had left. For having misjudged the loyalty of a friend who had subsequently exposed her affair.
For having the affair in the first place and with Kate, another woman.
The world was still not ready for such events.
She hoped her son would not make the same mistake and gamble his own life and family in pursuit of doomed desire.
She swam, and she swam, and she struggled.
Tears mixed with sea and she spluttered.
She would returning home. Back to the universe which had created her, and which could uncreate her.
She do not deserve to live.
The sun soon set and so did she.
The waves churned briefly and the appearing stars twinkled.
On the concluding night of the Ryan vs Ryan case, Kate and Jeri had stood at opposite ends of Kate's large kitchen.
The bright young woman who joined the cast of the popular television show was now haggard, harried, and so deprived of sleep that the shadows under her eyes had become permanent.
Kate watched in fright as Jeri's body trembled, her clothes crumpled and loosely fitting her now underweight frame.
Her blonde hair was tangled and tied back. Her skin was ghostly pale, and the turquoise of her eyes showed only a dying luminesce.
Jeri's thin fingers gripped the hem of her T-shirt and her weak legs displayed the bruises she had attained after fainting and falling down several stone steps following the court's ruling.
She had stared at Kate with the look of a woman whose life had long since finished.
Her eyes were raw from her tears. It had been distress such as Kate had never witnessed.
Labouring to try and remain strong for them both, Kate had insisted they would take Jeri's case to a Court of Appeal, but something had broken inside the younger woman.
She was no longer the confident, resilient younger actress who had confronted her in her trailer only several months ago and demanded respect.
Her heart had been wrenched from her body and her life, her strength, had left her.
Still she stared at Kate, as if the older woman would be able to provide an answer.
Neither woman held any hope for an overruling of the court's decision.
It was over.
Jeri would only be allowed infrequent, short and supervised visits with her son. And for these she would have to now fly to Missouri, or else relocate there, as her estranged husband had set up a new, permanent home in the town of Springfield for him, his son, and his new girlfriend, whom he claimed he had met during the court trial for custody of his son.
As a four-year-old boy, Alex Ryan was now at the full mercy and influence of his father's opinions and life lessons. And a woman who was a stranger to the child would be there in place of the child's own mother.
Jack had promised the judge he would be raising his son to 'fear God' as well as reject any and all 'evil influences' in the young child's life.
Jack Ryan, the judge and jury had all ruled that Jeri Ryan was such an influence.
And in deciding to kiss Kate that fateful day, in her heart Jeri had agreed that her pursuit of a same-sex extramarital affairmeant meant she was certainly a bad influence upon her son.
She had been reckless and this was all her fault. The idea that she had been unfairly discriminated against was one she could not accept.
She had desired Kate and she had loved her. And now she had paid the price for that love.
But it was a price she couldn't bear. And as devastated as Kate was at the situation before her, the older woman wouldn't be able to help Jeri shoulder it.
The last words Jeri would find to speak to Kate had been…
"… Thank you for all you have done. And for everything."
That same evening she would leave for a therapy session she would never attend...
Three days later and Jeri's disappearance was not being treated as suspicious. The police were treating it as a suicide and had began to search the Los Angeles coast.
"Jeri Ryan is a victim of a sexist and homophobic regime to which this country's justice system has indulged in for far too many years…"
Majel Roddenberry's steady and commanding voice soared above the ten thousand strong crowd of Los Angeleans and visitors to Los Angeles as a humongous mass of LGBT and women's rights protesters filled the roads and streets surrounding the LA courthouse which had denied Jeri any rights over her child.
"We won't be waiting until the twenty-third or twenty-fourth century for gay rights and women's rights. Or for African-American or any oppressed peoples rights..." The crowd cheered and screamed with anger and approval. Hundreds of rainbow flags waved like flames among the waving fists and banners.
Mobilisation in such numbers had not been seen on the streets of Los Angeles in many years, and one face among the protestors shined unusually bright.
With the eyes and mouth of the famous female starship captain, but with a mass of thick brown hair and freckles as distinct as tiny pale orange petals, Kate lookalike daughter Danielle stood elbow to elbow with LGA members including Nicholls, Stewart and Roddenberry, as well as many other Star Trek actors and others including X-Files' Gillian Anderson, at the forefront of the gates of the courtroom demanding "Justice for Jeri" and pleading "Jeri come home".
Having immediately made the trip from Iowa with her boyfriend to meet her birth mother, Danielle and many of her friends had subsequently joined protesters and fans in the search for the young actress and in demand for change and justice for gay parents.
Upon meeting Kate she could only support and console the terrified actress who had given her away at birth.
With Jeri missing but her family finally reunited, her three children by her side, Kate's life was simultaneously collapsing and reforming at the same time.
With the exception of Robert Beltran, all Kate's fellow Voyager cast members and many members of the studio's crew were actively involved in protests and in the search for their colleague and friend.
Star Trek Voyager filming was suspended.
Paramount Pictures had made a statement expressing their concern for the young actress' whereabouts and offering their thoughts and prayers for her safe return.
On every corner of the media, on every newspaper and on every news channel, Jeri Ryan's face was front and centre and her name was the most well-known in all of the United States and more widely across the global entertainment world...
"Young, gay, actress and mother JERI RYAN suspected dead by suicide off the coast of Los Angeles"
The rawness of grief consumed Kate like vinegar being poured down her open mouth.
Eyes bleeding tears and a body shaking with despair and disbelief, anger and insomnia, the once leading lady of a science fiction smash hit had been reduced to a widow weeping into the dry sand of the Pacific wilderness.
Members of the LA coast guard and the police were placed evenly across the miles long coastline.
Boats carrying divers searched the crystal blue sea, but with several days past her disappearance, her body could may long since had been carried out to open sea.
Kate grieved the life she believed her selfishness had taken.
She knew that a relationship with another woman was a forbidden fruit. The sweetest and the deadliest.
Twentieth century America simply was not ready to deal with female love or empowerment.
Jeri's love for her child and her grief at feeling she had lost him forever had driven her to the edge and over with desperation and distress.
Kate had consented for them both to gamble their lives for a relationship, and it had ended the way she denied it ever would, but suspected it still might.
They had taken a chance and now Jeri was dead.
She had love the younger woman in a way she has not loved any other partner.
Jeri was intelligent, resilient, kind, and beyond beautiful.
But her nerve had snapped.
Her soul had broken.
And even at that moment there were press photographers lining the edges of the coastline.
They documented the conclusion of the lesbian love affair which had provided for their salaries for these past few months.
Photographs of Kate in her distress, by the side of the miles wet grave of her same-sex sweetheart would the next day be published by every major news outlet in America.
'A cruel end to a short affair', or 'The only end for sin and sodomy'...
... ... ...
"Four of Twelve Primary Adjunct of Trimatrix One Five has a regeneration fault.
Locate the error and increase the force field around her chamber.
The drone must not be permitted to leave the confines of her chamber.
The drone must not be deactivated.
If the drone does escape her confines, accompany her to my chamber.
If the drone begins to exhibit any behaviour of her former individual self, deactivate her immediately. Dismember her and bring her components to me."
Chapter 8: Chapter 8
The thick taste of metal sickened and overwhelmed the starship captain who was captive in a static body which was not her own.
Wanting to squirm but being hooked in place by various coils which ran like microscopic webs throughout her body, Kathryn Janeway was awakening into hell.
Flesh had been replaced by metal across her torso, down her spine, in her arms and legs and neck.
There was also metal in her skull but her eyes still felt like her own although she could not yet open them.
She breathed inwards, it was painful.
Confused and afraid, she tried to yell.
Only managing a silent groan she then attempted to force her sore and restricted body to move again.
Her implants and armoury was too extensive.
Slowly losing consciousness as a solution was secreted intravenously directly into her neck, her increasingly desperate struggling deceased and she became still once more in her regeneration chamber.
Sudden weightlessness made her queasy and afraid as strong hands lifted her from her stationery position. Wrapping under her legs, they carried her away.
Three voices were distinguishable.
She tried to fight them. She fought her fatigue and the ghosts of her constraints, jerking her withered arms and legs at random and coughing weekly through a throat which was dry as the sun.
She felt like she was wearing a coat of lead, but still she tried to use it, swinging her heavy arms and legs and whipping her head back and around.
Hands caught her face. They smoothed her sore, greasy skin, and a woman's voice spoke soothingly to her.
Her frantic heartbeat was throbbing in her ears and she could not understand.
Continuing to fight, her eyelids slowly opening and her eyes stinging, Kathryn growled, unable to form speech but swinging her limbs ever more violently.
The voice was hushed, urgent, and it took the older woman a few moments to realise that she had understood the words.
It was a voice she recognised. And as the soft hands continued to smooth her skin, the captain's resistance depleted, her body becoming limp.
She did not know who was there or what was going on.
But she trusted the soft voice.
A deeper, familiar, voice then spoke clearly, "Voyager, four to beam up".
Suspended in the darkness before her floated a huge, ashened-grey sphere.
Its surface was rugged, crumbly, and it rotated slowly on its slanted axis.
Gradually, tiny distant lights began to appear behind the mass. A moment later, a huge crown of light started to swell from behind it.
The sphere came closer, rumbling and crumbling into vacuum, but Kathryn remained still, fascinated.
As the sphere continued to approach, and aware she must be dreaming, Kathryn willed herself to wake up.
The ashened planet grew larger and the captain began to see the outlines of countless bodies within the ash surface.
Looking like they had long since been consumed by flames, goose pimples travelled over Kathryn's body and she began to panic.
Again, she found herself unable to move.
Faces she recognised appeared beneath the ash. Mouth's moving they spoke silent words to her.
A mass of arms and legs suddenly sprang from the sphere , and the planet's surface appeared to churn with the tentacles of a lost species.
Unable to run from the now fast-approaching limbs, two arms finally grabbed her and shook her.
Kathryn struggled and cried as the face of a woman appeared amongst the crawling bodies.
It was a young woman with large eyes and round lips and the deceased young woman attempted to climb from the bodies, to join Kathryn in the stillness.
Amazed and afraid at the face she recognised but could not place, young woman spoke to her name and suddenly she knew...
Kathryn's eyes flew open.
Immediately squinting away from bright lights, she promptly threw up .
The heavy armoury she had been wearing had been removed and her body was bare but for her medical gown and a blanket.
A pair of hands made to steady her and she flinched from their touch.
She saw another hand holding a bowl which had caught her vomit.
Again she heard voices, voices she knew, but her confusion and memory loss caused her only fear.
Shivering in a pale body still compromised by many metal implants, she attempted speech, but her sore, dry throat caused her only wretch.
A new, clean bowl was presented in front of her by a hand adorned with a metal exoskeleton.
Disbelieving of what she was seeing, she shook her head sharply in denial, articulating finally a strained "...no....no...."
Attempting to climb from her biobed, she received an instruction in a voice she now recognised immediately, "Kathryn, you must rest..."
Whimpering, she looked upwards into the clear, blue eyes of a woman she knew to be her lost love, Jeri.
Chest tightening with distress, she turned fearfully from Seven and repeated, "...no......no..."
With a deep breath and a huge effort, the captain groaned in pain she finally got to her feet and stood barefoot and shivering on the sick bay floor.
New hands were reaching for her now but she fought them off, struggling to control her breathing and telling herself that all of this was a long and drawnout dream.
But the nightmare about the dead planet and the arm's had been a dream...
So full of fear and confusion, she just wanted to cry. She was so afraid, and she did not want to see Jeri's body talking to her, looking at her.
The loud hiss of the sickbay door opening roused her suddenly and she looked upwards.
Chakotay entered. And upon seeing the captain on her feet, hastened towards her.
His tired face shone with relief.
She glared at him.
Stopping a short distance from her, the first officer stared dumbfounded as his captain ignored him, then slowly began to shut her eyes.
One more time she willed herself to awaken.
"...Doctor?" Enquired the concerned Chakotay, and Kathryn scrunched her eyelids shut, wishing she could close her ears.
This was too much.
Voices and movement continued around but she ignored them all and none of them tried again to touch her.
She could not remember where she had been before waking up in this nightmare. But she wanted more than anything to awaken in her bed at home on, comfortable home in Los Angeles.
A gentle hand upon her arm followed by Jeri's soft voice requested, "Kathryn, please sit down ..."
But her eyes were shut tight and after a brief moments indecision, she shirked her arm away from Seven's touch.
"...leave me alone .." the Captain pleaded, her voice weak and strained with distress and fatigue.
She wondered why this nightmare Jeri was addressing her by her full name "Katherine" and not "Kate".
She curled her shoulders and body inwards and loved herself into a ball on the floor.
Her heavy head and limp hair behind her knees, and her arms wrapped tightly around her legs, she gave in to her emotion and allowed herself once more to cry.
Why couldn't she waken? Why was she trapped in this Voyager nightmare?
Why was Jeri there?
Why had she seen a planet of ash and limbs?
Where were her children? Why had Jeri died?
Why was she here in this nightmare?
Why wouldn't she waken?
In desperation to wake up, she turned and sank her teeth firmly into her forearm.
"No" admonished Seven of Nine, who lowered herself to the floor next to her and gently and unobtrusively wrapped one arm around her lover's shoulders. Kathryn curled further inwards but she did not shake Seven off as the young woman took her bitten arm in her other hand, holding the older woman kindly but firmly.
The captain quieted as she continued to allow herself to be held by this apparition of her lost lover.
She told herself that she would wake in the morning and all would be as it were .
She remembered the face of her daughter and her trembling lips curled into a small smile.
She would see Danielle again. And they would all be a family.
Or was that the dream, a life where she was reunited with the child she had given away?
Kathryn grimaced once more in despair.
Her tears streamed like tap water.
What was real?
She no longer knew.
To be continued...