Kes is an Ocampa, a race native to the Delta Quadrant, with a lifespan of only 9 years. In the series pilot, Kes is taken on board the USS Voyager crew with her partner, Neelix, who was responsible for rescuing her from the Kazon. Kes had been a slave of the Kazon after her attempt to escape the tedium of normal Ocampan life. She had also hoped to develop her psionic powers, which her ancestors were rumored to have possessed with great proficiency. The Ocampa's psionic powers were relatively unknown by that time because of the Ocampa lifestyle, which depended solely on the Caretaker for provisions and protection.
During her time aboard Voyager, Kes develops a close friendship with the Doctor while working as his assistant medical technician. Kes receives medical training and helps the Doctor learn how to interact more easily with the crew. She also helps him develop social skills, such as helping him get a date with Vidiian Dr. Denara Pel ("Lifesigns"), and supporting him when he deals with the loss of his "daughter" in a holographic family simulation ("Real Life"). Kes also becomes a friend and student of Tuvok, who helps her develop and learn to control her psionic abilities.
In the episode "Warlord", Kes treats an Ilaran man carrying the consciousness of former Ilaran tyrant Tieran. As he lies there, dying, Tieran transfers his mind into her for his own goal of re-conquering Ilara, prompting Kes to steal a shuttlecraft to go to Ilara. He makes full use of her mental abilities, but it becomes evident that Kes is battling with him internally for the control of her mind. Tieran is eventually purged from her mind, but Kes is left somewhat traumatized from the violent acts she participated in. Tuvok tells her that she will have to learn and adapt from the experience, and that she will never be quite the same again. It is during this episode that Kes calls off her long-term romantic relationship with Neelix, under the mind control of Tieran during an away mission claiming he is too jealous, suffocating, and protective. Upon resolution of the conflict Kes decides to not re-initiate their intimacy (the alien's original rationale was based on Kes' own subconscious), though the two do remain good friends thereafter.
In the episodes "Scorpion" and "The Gift", Voyager becomes entangled in a major conflict between the Borg and the mysterious aliens referred to as 'Species 8472'. Due in part to her exposure to the powerful telepathic influx of Species 8472, Kes begins to "evolve" into a different state of being. She can no longer remain with Voyager, but before leaving, she uses her newly acquired powers to hurl Voyager and crew safely beyond Borg space, 9,500 light-years closer to Earth.
Kes later revisits Voyager in a story involving time travel ("Fury"). At this point she appears much older, is much more powerful, and is vengeful towards the Voyager crew. She travels to the past and attempts to hand the past Voyager over to the Vidiians while she takes her past self home, but this attempt is thwarted. Using their new foreknowledge of these events, the present Janeway and Tuvok create a hologram of Kes at the time who reminds her future self about her affection for the crew and how much they had cared for her, thus showing Kes how irrational her hatred is. The episode ends with her taking her ship back to Ocampa.
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