…Dani Janeway had just turned sixteen a few days ago. After a trial game, her mother had finally granted her the privilege of playing Velocity. But she wasn’t playing Velocity tonight. Tonight, she was going to a party.
Dani looked herself over in the mirror. The red fitted turtleneck sweater and short black skirt she was wearing was perfect for tonight. Her eyes moved to her hair. She couldn’t decide whether she should wear it up or down. She held it up with her hand and studied the prospective style. Then she let it fall about her shoulders once more and brushed it. Ultimately, she decided to wear it up. She twisted it and placed a clip on it to keep it in place. She looked herself over once more and decided that she was ready.
Dani walked into the living area. Her parents were together on the sofa reading a book. They looked up at her.
“Where are you off to tonight?” Kathryn asked.
“The holodeck,” Dani replied.
“One of your party programs?” Chakotay guessed.
“Have fun,” Kathryn said, turning her attention back to the book.
“Thanks,” Dani said. A smile formed on her face as she turned to go. They hadn’t given her a curfew. That meant-
“Be back by 2400 hours,” Kathryn said, interrupting Dani’s thoughts. Dani whirled back around to face her parents, her smile having faded.
“2400?” she whined. She looked at the small chronometer strapped to her wrist. “But it’s 2100 now.”
Kathryn turned a page in the book. “Then you’d better be going then,” she said. As an afterthought, she looked up behind her at Chakotay. “You were finished with that page, weren’t you?”
“Um-hm,” Chakotay nodded.
Kathryn looked back down at the book. “2400,” she repeated.
Dani turned and walked out of the quarters. Kathryn watched the doors close behind her, then she closed the book.
“I wasn’t finished with that page,” Chakotay said.
“You don’t think 2400 is too early, do you?” Kathryn asked Chakotay, completely ignoring his complaint.
“No,” Chakotay said. “Not at all. When I was sixteen, that was my curfew.”
“But that was a different time,” Kathryn countered. “And different circumstances…” She leaned forward and placed the book on the coffee table. “The main reason for curfews was so that you could know where your child was. We know where ours is. What can happen to her here?”
“I think the more appropriate question would be ‘what can’t?'”
Kathryn thought about Chakotay’s statement for a moment. “You’re right,” she agreed. “Some strange things have happened on the decks of this ship.”
“And who’s to say that what happens can’t happen inside the walls of these quarters?” Chakotay challenged. “The fact that she’s in here doesn’t automatically make her safe.” Kathryn looked at him, and he went on. “Safety isn’t the only reason for curfews, though. Curfews establish discipline, order. In some cases, they can be used as punishment.”
“When do parents usually stop giving their children curfews?” Kathryn asked.
“Well, my parents stopped giving me a curfew when I turned 18,” Chakotay replied. “What about you?”
“Oh, I never had a curfew,” Kathryn said casually.
“You’d better not let Dani hear you say that. She’d call you a hypocrite.”
“No, it wasn’t like that. I mean, I never went out. There wasn’t any need for a curfew.”
“Well, what about Phoebe, then?” Chakotay probed.
“I suppose she stopped getting them at around 18, like you.”
“I think the thing to remember here is that Dani just turned sixteen. The rules will have to change as she gets older, but right now, I think 2400 is reasonable.”
Chakotay paced the living area. He looked at the chronometer on the wall. It was 0200 hours, and Dani still hadn’t returned from the holodeck.
“I’m going to go get her,” Chakotay declared.
“No,” Kathryn protested. “Let’s giver her a few more minutes.”
“A few more minutes? She’s had two hours.”
“Computer, locate Dani Janeway,” Kathryn commanded. The computer responded that Dani was on this deck. Kathryn and Chakotay looked at each other. That meant she was close. “Computer – lights.” The room instantly became dark.
Dani stopped in front of the doors of her quarters. ‘Maybe I shouldn’t go in,’ she thought. ‘But if I were any later, I’d just be in more trouble. Maybe I’ll get lucky, and they won’t be up.’ She punched in the security access code. She got it wrong the first time, partly because she was so tired and partly because she was worried about what might happen when the door open opened. She got the code on the second try and the doors slid open. She looked around the room before she went in. It was completely dark. ‘Maybe this won’t be so bad, after all.’
Dani walked in. The doors slid closed behind her, and she was enveloped in the darkness. She stood still for a moment before walking on, so that her eyes could adjust to the darkness. ‘Now, if I can just get to my room…’ She tip-toed across the living area to her room. She had expected to hear the whoosh of her doors sliding open when she approached the door, but she didn’t. She felt…a presence. A person. Someone was standing in between her and her bedroom. She sighed. The jig was up. “Computer – lights.” Light immediately flooded the room, and Dani saw that it was her father who was barring the way to her room. Dani turned around. Her mother was standing in the doorway of hers and Chakotay’s bedroom. Dani looked back at her father. Busted!