So long, and thanks for all the tricorders1. First the Voyager crew rescue Kes from a lifetime of torture and slavery, then she rescues them from the Borg. In between, Kes has been an integral part of social life on board Voyager.
If you'd rather like to read about how Kes is acted by Jennifer Lien, or behind the scenes rumours involving the character Kes, please follow the links to those pages. Or maybe you want to read some fiction by me?
Pursuing dreams. The Ocampa race used to live on the surface of their planet. They were quite advanced beings, with mental capabilities that went even beyond telekinesis. But an ecological disaster had rendered their planet useless and 'the caretaker' (who caused the disaster) tried to repay the debt by supplying them with the means to live underground. For longer than any Ocampa can remember, no one of them has ever seen the surface. Their dependance on the caretaker made them weak and after many generations their mental abilities were forgotten.
The caretaker has lived through all that time, and supplied the Ocampa people with the energy they need. But slowly the caretaker dies and leaves the Ocampa to fend for themselves, with only five years of reserves left. They will probably all die.
The lifespan of the Ocampa is, unlike most alien races, rather short: nine years. Even though they are nowadays not a shimmer of what they were before, they are still a very impressive people. Because they go through a full life in a much shorter time than other species do, they have to experience things a lot faster, learn a lot faster and have a lot less time for hanging about, doubts, contemplations and other nonsense. The result is a race which is very calm but decisive, virtually without social protocol and with simple but beautiful clothing (see Style Ocampa). You would also expect them not to have a religion, but the actual demonstrable existence of their 'god' (the caretaker) and their dependance on him have given them a religion of sorts that tries to decipher his wishes and how not to upset him.
Meanwhile the girl Kes, like a few other Ocampa, believes they can be so much more. She believes the Ocampa once had mental gifts beyond the telepathy they are left with now. She believes there's more to life than sitting about trying not to upset the caretaker. She believes Ocampa people can live on the surface. Like a good Ocampa girl she puts her life where her mouth is and she finds her way to the surface. She's an adventurer, an explorer.
Different sects of the Kazon (a violent and powerful race) rule the part of the Delta Quadrant that contains the Ocampa homeworld. That part has a shortage of a very important substance: water. Only the Ocampa have a sufficient water supply, given to them by the caretaker. Kes is captured by these Kazon, tortured and enslaved, but she doesn't betray her people. When we first meet her, she's in such a bad state that any other person would have cracked. But this fragile looking elfin-like girl of not even one year old, young even for an Ocampa, is strong. And she knows where her heart is; she knew that if she had betrayed her people, she wouldn't have wanted to go on living anyway.
A local scrap-merchant, a Talaxian named Neelix, has dealings with many species and so also with the Kazon. On the Ocampa homeworld he meets the slave girl Kes and they fall in love. He promises to rescue her, but he does not know how. The accidental arrival of the Starfleet and their powerful ship Voyager (that can replicate water) gives the quick thinking Neelix the opportunity he was waiting for.
Kes is saved, but Voyager has to embark on a journey into the unknown. The adventurer and explorer Kes convinces Neelix that they have to travel with them. In the ship's captain Kes finds a solemate, someone who like her wants to explore everything, peek through every crack in the universe. But the survivalist Neelix has rather a hard time seeing the joy of taking those risks.
This is the story of the first year in the life of Kes. She was promised eight more of those and if her beliefs were correct even some more. Her next years on Voyager further established her relationships with the other people on board and the influence she had on them. They brought some moments where the lifes of all or some of the crew depended on her strength. They also showed that even though her heart is good, she's not pure goodness like Gabrielle2. But she always tries to be good and the crew loves her for that, as do we.
(Continued on the next page. Once it's written.)
The story of Kes is compiled from Startrek: Voyager episodes.
1Reference to The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy
2Reference to Xena: Warrior Princess
Complaints? Updates necessary? Whatever? E-mail me: Gidi Kroon.