DISCLAIMER: I don't own them. However, I sure wish that Paramount would create a new Star Trek series of good quality that would keep the idea alive so that we Fan Fiction writers don't have to do all the work. :)
AUTHOR'S NOTE: There are several sex scenes in this story. On top of that, sex is talked about. However, this story is not just sex (talk). It simply turned out to be a good base to build on other stuff. Note that this story deals with a relationship that has a more dominant and a more submissive partner. However, this is not Dom/sub by any stretch. This is merely two people that fit well together where BOTH people have an equal say in their relationship, just that they prefer to fulfill different roles in said relationship. Also, note, the Delaney sisters are in this story and they are close. Very close. So close that some people might have a problem with it, but rest assured it's not so close as some Voyager people would wish it to be. :P On a side note, Tal Celes also has a pretty decent role in this story. If you read some Voyager Fan Fiction, you will probably know her because she is very often featured as a supporting character. But when I was checking out her bio, I discovered that she has actually only been seen in two, count them, two, episodes. My point here is I find it interesting how some characters can just stick with you and appeal to so many; not just Tal, but also the Delaney sisters or Ro Laren. (Ro is not in this story, just using her as an example for this side note.) She was also in only a few episodes of TNG yet everyone pretty much knows her. But on the other hand, characters like Tuvok and Neelix are often nothing more than just mentioned because they are part of the main cast and therefore basically have to be mentioned. Strange.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
FEEDBACK: To mhw.weckseler[at]gmail.com
Twenty-five to Life
She leaned back against the trunk of the tree, deep in thought. The tree was an ancient thing, so old that it was even mentioned in some of the folklore stories her people liked to tell at night at the gathering place. High up, at least five times her body height, the trunk split into five branches in such a way that if you used a little imagination you could see a cupped hand in the form. It was an ideal place to sit and think for those that were brave enough to climb up. For the really brave, the cup of the hand formed an ideal place to sleep on those warm summer nights.
Of course, as her status grew, others kept away from the tree and it was now known in the village as her spot. She liked to go there and think. From where she sat, she had an unspoiled view of the small waterfall that fed the lake her village was built around. Big trees and lush grass fields completed the beautiful picture that she would never tire of seeing.
Yet, she knew that soon she would sit here for a last time and then never see it again. Only four more months and then she would leave. Leave her home, most of her family, her friends, the very planet that was home to her species.
Sometimes she had second thoughts about applying for a place in the Fleet. She had done so assuming that she would be rejected because there was still a waiting list from when the last Fleet had left. She had only applied now so that her name would move up the list and then maybe she would have a chance at being selected with the next Fleet in two years, or the one after that in four years.
She should have known better, she admitted privately to herself. Waiting list or not, there was no chance in hell that the selection committee would have passed her over. She was of the Mountain Tribes. Her people were a mystery to most and admired by all. If that hadn't been enough, her status, as a Healer would have made sure that she would be of the first pick. Then, if by some miracle, all of that still had not been enough, she would still have been selected for the person that was joining with her. She and her brother were a one package deal. Even if they hadn't wanted her, they still would have picked her so that her brother would come too.
She smiled when she heard a sound below her. 'Think of the devil.'
She didn't look down, didn't say a word. She just waited. Not long later, she was engulfed in two huge powerful arms that could have easily crushed her if they wanted to. Her brother, First Warrior of the clan, was a bear of a man that was huge, strong as an ox, and on top of that, damn smart. It wasn't his strength alone that made sure he became First Warrior though; it was also the fact that he was an incredibly gentle and kind soul. He knew how to show compassion and patience when needed and mercy, if deserved.
She smiled when she felt him place a gentle kiss on the top of her head. And with her this brute of a man always showed an insight and understanding of her that was second to none. He made her laugh when she needed it, gave her a shoulder to cry on when she needed that, or a hug when she needed that. Her brother wasn't a touchy person that liked to talk about feelings but she was the exception. They touched often. Hugged, sat so close that they were touching, and sometimes even held hands.
Since they weren't brother and sister by blood, some uninformed people witnessing this behavior thought they were romantically linked. They couldn't be more wrong. They enhanced each other. They were so close that sometimes they felt like one person. They loved each other more than life itself, just that it wasn't the romantic kind of love.
"Having second thoughts?" His deep rumbling voice asked. "We can stay if you want."
She smiled. "No. I want to go. I'm looking forward to it. It's just that I mourn what I have to leave behind, my friends, the rest of my family, and the village." She nodded her head to indicate the beautiful view they were enjoying. "This. Only four more months and I will have to give up views like this in exchange for looking at bulkheads on a starship."
"You can't have it all," he merely said.
Had anyone else made that remark, she would have rolled her eyes at the corny overused statement. However, this was her brother, her protector, and her best friend. She sighed. "I know. And if I didn't go, I would only be sitting here and kicking myself for not going."
They were quiet for a few minutes while they looked at the scenery. Finally he asked, "Did you hear back about just what jobs they want us to do in the Fleet?"
She chuckled. "No. They saw that we were Mountain Tribe and were automatically granted admittance for this selection. My educated guess is that they will ask you to join the Defense Force and I will probably be assigned to one of the sickbays."
"Probably," her brother agreed. "The next four months you will be busy."
She groaned. "Don't remind me. The Chief already informed me that he has received the requests of four of the other Clans for me to cover their villages as well while their healers are off to the city to do some training in modern healing."
"It's your own fault," He teased gently. "You were the one that always said yes when they came for help with their difficult cases. They were spoiled. Now they find that they have only four months left to brush up on their knowledge."
"They became complacent," she disagreed. "They focused more and more on doing only the smaller things ever since the Clan Chiefs agreed that people could be beamed to the city if there was an emergency. Soon they started to redefine what an emergency was more and more. It's not my fault that the Chiefs tightened the rules in the last months to life threatening only."
"But you are the best healer in any of the Clans," he reminded.
She shrugged. " I used the beaming as it was supposed to, a true emergency. I only asked for a beam out if I truly couldn't fix it and the person was in danger of dying. For the rest, I tried until I succeeded. I never got lazy."
"Want me to hand my task as First Warrior to my second earlier so that I can travel with you for the next four months?" He offered softly.
She turned in his arms to look at him. "I can't ask that of you."
"And I'm not waiting for you to ask because I know you would never ask," he countered with a smile. "I'm offering. You want some company?"
"Yes," she admitted. Then she added slyly, "Of course, you do know that if I'm going to visit the other Clans, that I'm also going to spend the nights with the uncommitted ladies, right?"
He chuckled. "Like I won't? Sometimes I really like the fact that we both like women, that way no matter what their preference is, at least one of us has a chance."
Now she laughed. "Ah, that's why you are offering to come along. First Warrior of a Clan and uncommitted on top of that, you want to do the rounds one more time before being stuck on a starship with non Clan members."
The chuckle turned into a laugh. "Like I would care if she is Clan, I just want to get some."
She swatted his arm playfully. "You pig."
"Yes, but you love me anyway." Then he whispered into her ear, "I think it's a good thing we have a set of quarters on that ship with two bedrooms. Just think of all the uncommitted women that will be on those ships. More than you would find on average because it's the uncommitted ones that go looking for a new life, while committed ones have already settled into a life here on the planet."
She smiled. "True. And with us being Clan and so admired because of it, we can have some fun with someone else every day. Ooh, I'm so looking forward to going." Then she realized what her brother had done and placed a thankful kiss on his arm. "Thanks for getting me out my funk. Come on, let's get down and go mingle at the gathering place."
She felt the strong arms let go of her and she was just about to turn to go to the spot where she could climb down the easiest when their attention was drawn to a fiery streak in the sky. As the line of fire came over them, they could just distinguish a hull formed somewhat like a tear while the fires of entering the atmosphere obscured the rest of the ship.
"It seems like new guests," she noted once the ship was gone. "I wonder if they will stay as well; the others always did."
"True," her brother agreed. "I heard that they actually already decided to stay. They are just landing their ship now so that all of them can stay on our planet."
"Really," she asked, to her this was news. But then again she had been quite busy with taking care of the sick recently.
"Oh yes," her brother assured as he climbed down. "Same story as always really. They only stopped for a shore leave then liked our world and us so much that they decided to stay."
"How many are we talking about," she asked as she started to climb down as well.
"A hundred and forty people, I think it was," her brother said after a moment of thought. "I personally find it interesting that we send Fleets out to keep the number of the population on our planet low, but we welcome strangers with open arms."
She brushed off her hands once she was down and then grinned at him. "It's a small price to pay for the interesting things strangers bring. They may be primitive in technology normally but they have brought some real treasures over time."
"Are you talking about treasures in things they brought us or treasures as in females of others species?" Her brother teased, knowing that she did have a weakness for women of different species. At least for their looks since neither of them had ever met someone of a different species yet.
"Well," she said, adding an extra long pause as if thinking about the answer. "I was more thinking of Zeofraan ice-cream; the best ice-cream in existence. But yes, the ladies are quite tasty too."
He merely laughed as they started to walk down the path to their village.
Four months later.
"What the hell happened? My head feels like it's going to explode."
"Please Captain, stay calm," the Doctor urged. "The antidote needs a minute to do its job and after that I can give you something for your headache."
Kathryn didn't say anything else and meekly waited for the minute to pass. This was the worst headache she had ever had in her life and that was including her extremely rare bouts of migraines. Finally, the Doctor injected something into her neck and she could feel the mist of pain start to lift. "What happened?"
"You didn't listen to me. That's what happened," The Doctor replied clearly miffed.
"Well it's true," The Doctor interrupted before sighing. "Tell me, what is the last thing you remember?"
The hairs on the back of Kathryn's neck stood on end with that question. She knew only too well that people only asked that when they knew there was going to be a part you didn't remember. "Well, we were in orbit around a planet and just about to start shore leave. The absolute last thing I remember is stepping off the transporter pad in the welcome center in the planet's capital city."
The Doctor nodded. "Do you also remember that we did the standard procedure of scanning the planet and that I told you there was a trace element in the air that I couldn't place?"
"I do," Kathryn agreed. "You told me that you weren't sure exactly what affect it could have on the crew. When I pressed you to be more specific, you told me that there was only a five percent chance that it would have any effect at all and a zero percent chance the effects would be physically harmful."
The Doctor picked up a PADD and waved it slightly, as if it would emphasize his next statement. "Right and I also suggested you give me a day more to study the element. But, as I said, you didn't listen and ordered the shore leave. Well, I can now inform you that the five percent chance did happen and it affected all of the crew. In fact, it would affect everyone that isn't born on the planet."
"What did it do?" Kathryn asked with dread.
The Doctor looked at the PADD for a moment before stating, "Basically it induced a feeling of euphoria."
"That's it?" Kathryn asked confused.
The Doctor shook his head. "Captain, you don't seem to get the whole picture here. The crew, the whole crew, felt happy on the planet. They didn't want to go home to the Alpha Quadrant anymore. They didn't want to travel on without knowing what would happen to them and instead they wanted to stay on the planet. You landed the ship and started a life there."
Kathryn paled. "You're joking."
"I assure you, I'm not," The Doctor said seriously. "That first day is now four months ago and the crew moved on. They started relationships on the planet, got married, got jobs. Voyager was left abandoned because our technology is so far behind the Urdians that Voyager wasn't even worth salvaging for parts. Luckily, you decided that you could also not sell the ship to some private party since it didn't belong to you or any of the crew; it was Federation property. Unfortunately the only person on the ship that was not affected by the trace element, me obviously, had been trapped in the computer. I had turned myself off for some rest. When the power of Voyager was cut, I was trapped."
"So how did you escape? How come I can't remember the last four months?" Kathryn wondered.
"I didn't manage to escape. I was rescued," The Doctor pointed out. "The crew had dispersed itself over the planet basically as soon as shore leave began and the element started to affect them. Everyone just assumed that I had gone to a different part on the planet with one of the other groups. That is until the Urdians wanted to approve citizenship for the crew and noticed that one person from the personnel roster was missing from the logs, me. As for why you don't remember anything, well that's the tough part. Once I was free, I started to do the research I wanted to do in the beginning. It seems that not only was the element changing your feelings about what you wanted to do in your life, it also was acting as a blockade of sorts. The amino acids,"
The Doctor stopped talking when Kathryn lifted her hand in a stopping matter. "Laymen's terms Doctor, or else I have to pretend that I understand what you're saying and then look it up as soon as I reach the ready room."
"Alright, if you want the crude basics," The Doctor said slightly offended. "You had to make a choice; either stay on the planet and continue your life that you started there, forever living under the influence of the trace element or the Urdians could devise a way to purge the element from your body. The latter was not without risks. Initial tests showed a potential side effect of the procedure of removing all of the memories from the last four months. This is indeed the case apparently. The crew all agreed that for better or worse, they wanted to be themselves and not influenced by an inhibiting element. They all agreed to undergo the same procedure you just underwent. Of course, you volunteered to be the first to go through the procedure. Now the rest can follow."
"Great," Kathryn sighed. "Alright, that means I have some work to do. I'll go to the bridge now."
"Captain, there is more." The Doctor said, placing his hand on Kathryn's arm in a stopping way.
"And I'm sure I can read about it in your report. Doctor, I can't listen to stories now, I have things to prepare."
"Very well," the Doctor said, only to then add, "In that case, when you get to the bridge, could you please tell your wife that I would like to see her? And could you ask her if she, as Admiral of the Fleet, could please turn up for all her regular checkups? This would set a good example to the others; unlike her wife."
"Excuse me?" Kathryn asked, not believing her ears. "Could you run that by me again?"
"What?" The Doctor asked smugly. "The wife part or the Fleet part? Don't worry Captain, we are only talking about forty thousand people, in twenty generational ships. Generational ships build by the Urdians, so they are of the kind that put any known Federation ship to shame, by a big margin."
"Wife?" Kathryn repeated.
She pushed her personal data card in the reader, trying to see how many trade points she had left, but even that wasn't working. This was definitely not her day. The person behind her coughed politely, but she got the hint.
"My card isn't working," she explained. "Please go ahead. I'll try again when you're finished."
She stood to the side and watched as the man stepped up to the reader and inserted his card. She groaned when she realized that the reason her card hadn't worked was because she inserted it the wrong way.
Using the hand scan as identification that he was the card's owner, the man transferred some of his trade points onto the card for easy payments. Once he was done, he didn't walk away. He stepped to the side and waited to see if he could help.
"First PD card?" He asked.
"PD?" She repeated.
"PD, personal data," he explained. "That's what everyone calls it, PD card. Obvious really since it has all your personal data from your biometric identification data to the data needed to access your trade point account. Normally we get them at age ten, but I'm guessing you just got your first one."
She sighed. "Is it that obvious?"
He chuckled. "Well, to be fair, the robes you're wearing do kinda scream that you come from a place where PD cards aren't normally used. A private school maybe?"
"You could call it that," she said, not wanting to elaborate. She put the card in the reader and groaned when she saw that she had only a little over fifty points left. "I knew it. I should never have handed that waiter my card for him to take it into the restaurant and put it in the reader there so that I wasn't bothered."
"Sorry?" The man asked. "Um, lady, you never, ever, in no way, leave your card out of your sight. Even if stopped by a Defense Force member and asked for ID, they have to give you your card right back. In fact, you can even hold on to it as they scan it and never actually hand it over. How much did you have on there?"
"Four thousand points."
"If I was you I would go back to talk to the guy," the man started.
She shook her head, interrupting him. "Can't do that, he may have conned me, but I'm the one responsible because I signed the bill he handed me without reading what he written down. It was only later that I read that it said 'plus free tip'.
The man nodded in understanding. "Then it's a contract I'm afraid."
"I know. Well, I guess it was a very expensive lesson in not trusting people that are nice to me." She narrowed her eyes at the man. "Can I trust you? You're way too nice."
He laughed. "Oh hell no, never trust a stranger. By the way, I have a very nice bridge for sale, interested?"
"I know that one," she said with a grin, glad that the man was able to lighten her mood a little.
He laughed before pointing down the street. "Tell you what, lady. Why don't I show you the way to the Public Service Bureau? They might be able to explain a few facts of modern life to you. Plus, they have a social diner right next door. At least you can get a meal free. That is, if you trust me enough to accompany me. It's about fifteen minutes walking, but it's on my way anyway."
"Thanks, that's the best offer I had all day."
As they started to walk away, he asked, "Do you happen to have a name, young lady?"
"I do. Ina Dranzo is the name. And what is the name of my savior?"
He gave her a dazzling smile. "I'm Danna Jalis, but nobody ever uses my last name. Tell you what, Ina, once they instructed you a bit on what's what there at the Public Service Bureau, why don't you head on over to the East District, Tenth street? I have a restaurant there and if you want, I can give you a light job, just some cleaning and such. It would give you a chance to get your head together. It can be for a month only at most though. I'm heading out with the Fleet. One of my brothers will take over the restaurant then I can't guarantee jobs since it'll be his business."
She favored him with a smile. "Thanks for the offer. I appreciate it. I would even take you up on it if I didn't already have a job lined up. I'm leaving on a private luxury ship with people that don't want to be part of the Fleet. Thanks for the offer though."
He shrugged. "Ah, well then, all that's left for me to do is escort you to the PS Bureau and be on my way."
Kathryn walked in to her ready room, only to be greeted by a very shapely behind sticking out in her direction. With a raised eyebrow, she cleared her throat to get the other woman's attention.
"Oh, hi," the other woman said while she straightened up. "Glad to see you're up. Could you give me a hand? I lost my earring."
"If it's blue, just like your second one, I can see it lying right under the couch from here."
"Oh, thanks," the woman said, bending again, and once again giving Kathryn a nice view of her behind.
"Oh my," Kathryn heard herself say. She just couldn't help it. There was a certain pull to this woman. Something that made Kathryn want to walk those few paces and simply take the woman in her arms and kiss her, right before ravishing her.
"I love you too Kitten," the woman said as she stood up, giving Kathryn a sexy smile.
"Kitten?" Kathryn repeated.
"Sure," the woman said as she sat down on the couch. "Kathryn, cat, kitten, took me about one minute to come up with that nickname for you. I find it fitting considering how I can make you purr like a kitten. By the way, you always called me 'beautiful'."
"Beautiful?" Kathryn repeated, having to admit that the name was fitting. The woman certainly was that, beautiful.
The woman, a bit taller than Kathryn, was slender with sensual curves. A great behind, as Kathryn had already seen, but her front was also something to be admired. There was an ample chest, Kathryn guessed to be an abundant C-cup, surprisingly long legs that supported seductively well-rounded hips. Then there was her face. From the time before she lost her memory, Kathryn knew all the people from the planet had roughly the same head shape. With a narrow chin, delicate nose, and faint head ridges reminiscent of Romulans, made the eyebrows more dominant and therefore lending even more to the image of a triangular face. This particular woman looked absolutely stunning.
Kathryn found the best description for her was elfish. Well, with the tilt of those eyebrows it had to be a Romulan elf, but still. If her stunning features weren't enough, the woman looked surprisingly young, especially for someone with the rank of Admiral. If the woman had been a human, Kathryn would have guessed her to be thirty, at most. Far beyond the teenager stage, clearly a full woman, but a young woman nevertheless. Then Kathryn realized that she had no idea how long the Urdians lived, or how they aged. For all she knew the woman could be old enough to be Kathryn's grandmother.
The woman smiled and answered Kathryn's one worded question. "Well, you seemed to think I was beautiful."
"You are," Kathryn heard herself say. Then she shook her head, trying to get some common sense back. "Um, look, I know that we are married but,"
"And it seems that you know yourself very well," the woman interrupted. "You told me that you were going to pull that 'I'm the Captain' crap. So, let me lay down the facts for you, honey. We are married, very happily married, I might add. I don't put up with that 'I'm the Captain crap' because let me inform you, I'm the Admiral. So even when you do the 'I'm the Captain crap,' I still outrank you. I also don't intend to win you over again. I already did that. I spent a month getting you so far that you would kiss me. I'll be damned if I spend that time again, mainly because I know that your feelings for me are still there. So cut the crap, get over here, and kiss your wife."
"Just like that," Kathryn asked amused, only realizing when she sat down beside the woman that she had actually moved at her wife's words.
"No, just like this," the woman said before leaning close and treating Kathryn to a kiss that made her whole body tingle.
"Oh my, this really is all true, isn't it?" Kathryn asked rhetorically when they broke apart. "I'm sorry to say that I don't remember you, but this body sure does. May I?" With the last question, Kathryn hesitantly lifted her hand.
"I told you this once before, but seeing the circumstances, let me tell you again. You never have to ask if you may touch me, love," the woman assured.
Kathryn brought her hand to the woman's neck and pulled her close for another kiss. While they kissed, Kathryn moved her hand to the base of the woman's neck and put some pressure in just the right place, making the woman moan into the kiss. "Even though I don't remember, I seem to know all your spots."
"Oh, yeah, you know all my spots alright," the woman smiled. "But didn't your doctor explain the details of your memory loss?"
"I, um, kinda grilled him about other things I wanted to know," Kathryn admitted.
"Ah, well then, let me fill you in," the woman said with a smile. "See, the thing is you lost your conscious memory of the last four months only. The subconscious memory is still firmly in place. You still know how much you love me. You still know how I like to be touched. The same is true for the others in your crew. If you were the cooking kind, which you're definitely not, you would still know how to cook one of our dishes, how many spices to use. You just wouldn't remember what the names of the dish or the spices are."
"You said that we are happily married, how happily?" Kathryn wondered.
"Very happy, I assure you," the woman said as she started to move one of her hands through Kathryn's hair. Kathryn leaned into the caress, recognizing the familiarity of the gesture.
"Oh, I won't kid you," the woman continued. "We have our fights. We are both damn stubborn. I think I told you about four times already that I never wanted to see you again. The important part is, no matter how big the fight, at the end of the day we fall asleep in each other's arms after having told each other how much we love one another."
Kathryn looked at the woman and deliberately let her eyes drift over her body. "So, my nickname for you is 'beautiful'?"
"It is," the woman agreed.
"Hmm, would you mind if I changed that to gorgeous?"
"Well, you are," Kathryn said. "I can't believe that I'm really married to you. Damn, I'm one lucky woman."
"Yes, you are, on a regular basis, even," the woman said with a sexy grin.
Kathryn couldn't help but blush slightly. "Really? Regular basis?"
"Very regular," the woman agreed. "No more trips to the holodeck for you."
"Oh my god, I told you about that?" Kathryn asked horrified.
"Sure did. In fact, not only did you tell me about it, you showed me your favorite program." The woman took a long moment to look at Kathryn's horrified face before relenting. "On the computer. You showed me the program's parameters right before you deleted 'Kathryn private 233.219' from the computer's memory."
"You are evil," Kathryn finally said when she realized that she had been tweaked.
"Sure," the woman readily agreed. "It's one of the many things you love about me."
"But still, why did I show you that instead of just deleting it?" Kathryn wondered.
The woman chuckled. "Because, my sweet Kitten, we don't have any secrets. Two days after we got married you decided that it was time to clean up the computer files you had taken with you to our planet, since you didn't need them anymore. I playfully asked if they were naughty, and you actually being naughty, asked me if I wanted to see."
Hmm," Kathryn said with a smile. She had no doubt that the words were true since she could see herself doing exactly that. Her eyes found those of the woman and she was amazed at the clear love she could see there. She loved the interaction with the woman and there was no doubt left in her mind that they were destined for each other. "Alright, time to get down to business. So, gorgeous, before you fill me in on little things like that Fleet out there, why don't you fill me in on the big thing first."
"What's your name, my wife?" Kathryn asked with a bemused smile.
"It seems the Urdians have a rather interesting way of keeping the population on their planet at a level they prefer," Kathryn said as she looked around the table at her senior staff. "Every so often a group goes into space to find a new place to settle. Once they find such a place and a colony thrives, they start shuttling people there from their Homeworld. Not so much that the new world is overrun, but enough so that the population on their Homeworld is kept at a permanent level. Not counting slight fluctuations, their population level has been the same for centuries now."
Seeing the frown on Chakotay's face, she added, "I can guess what you heard Chakotay and it's true. Not all groups that go into space go with the soul purpose of finding new worlds to settle. But I'll explain that more in a moment. For now, just know that one of such groups was being prepared when we arrived on their planet. The Urdians were rather intrigued by our explorer mentality. When it was discovered that we weren't really that free on the planet, and we wanted to continue on our journey home, the Urdians asked if they could tag along, so to speak."
"Tag along?" Tom asked.
"Yes, when they leave the planet they don't have a clear place for settling in mind. In fact, there have been groups that have been traveling around in the universe for generations. This is the very reason why they have generational ships. Even the number of ships is no limiting factor for them. If the population grows to a point where it's starting to outgrow the ships, they simply build extra ships while in space."
"Excuse me," B'Elanna spoke up. "You mean they stop their traveling so that they can build ships, right?"
"Actually, no. You have to take their advanced technology in mind," Kathryn reminded. "It's rather impressive from what I've been told. A stationary bubble of space is created between two ships. This way they have a part of normal space in which they can build the new ship, even while at warp. The only reason they do stop from time to time is to mine ore or trade for the resources needed to build the ships. What's just as interesting is even though there are individual ships, they make a lot of work of being one community. They have the technology to beam back and forth between ships while at warp and do so all the time. Visiting friends or even simply because a member of the family works on a different ship. Their transporter abilities have proven so trustworthy that they even beam back and forth during yellow and red alert with their shields up."
"So why generational ships?" Tom asked. "I mean, I can get them using ships to ferry people off the planet. But why not just do recon missions and once they have found uninhabited planets simply send bulk ships filled with people in stasis."
"That's what the Federation would do," Kathryn agreed. "But they are not us. The reason for the generational ships, and the traveling back and forth between ships, is that to them the settling part isn't important. Once they leave, the group of ships is from that moment considered a colony. Where the colony ends up is only a side note. They would be just as happy to travel through space with never settling on a planet. It's actually because of this, because settling on a planet is not a must, that this group asked if they could travel with us. Considering our journey until now, I was only too happy to have an armada of twenty ships traveling with us."
She hesitated for a moment before amending, "Well, that's not entirely correct. This also covers what I just said about not every group that goes into space looking for a place to settle, and on the other hand saying that they create colonies and ship people there. From what I've been told they do have a general idea in mind before they begin. This is so they can pick people that will probably like traveling, living in space."
"It wouldn't be too good to pack all the ships full of farmers when they are just going to live in space," Chakotay guessed.
"Along those lines," Kathryn agreed. "They have a cycle of sorts. One Fleet leaves and their general idea is that they will probably settle on some planet somewhere. The next Fleet that leaves has the general idea that they will continue to live in space. For the third they have the... adventurers, I guess you could say. The third Fleet doesn't have any general idea in mind. They go out there to be surprised by life, so to speak. Whether they settle or stay in space, even they don't know. For them the adventure of something new is the important part. Once they are gone the cycle starts over. Well, the Fleet that is ready to go now is one of those adventurers group. That's why they want to tag along because to them it's not really important if we travel all the way to the Alpha Quadrant or decide to settle on a planet in the next week. They are more along for the ride."
"Captain," Chakotay asked hesitantly. "If their ships are that much more advanced than ours, on top of that there are twenty ships, forty thousand people..." He let his words trail off, but Kathryn knew where he was getting at.
"You wonder who will be in command?" Kathryn guessed. "Especially considering that to them Voyager is only an antiquated ship, manned by less than 140 people?"
"I am in command and I am not," Kathryn said with a grin. "Since the Urdians are interested in our exploratory nature the groups in these ships were selected on that and other things."
"What other things?" Chakotay asked, even though his original question wasn't answered yet. He knew that Kathryn would eventually answer both; she always did when other questions popped up during an explanation of something.
"For one thing, fifty of our crew are married or in a relationship with an Urdian," Kathryn said before giving them a moment to digest that number. Then she continued. "So, of course, those partners are coming with us. Four of those couples are with a child on the way. Also, a few thousand Urdians didn't necessarily want to leave their planet for space exploration, but simply wanted to be among the stars. They wanted to look out of a window and see different star systems every week and not the same constellations their entire life."
"But that's not exactly the general idea this Fleet is slated for, if I understand correctly," B'Elanna spoke up. "They would be more suited for one of the Fleets that want to stay in space."
"True," Kathryn agreed. "But it's normally two years between Fleet departures. They know if they don't go now, it will be about another two years or so before the next Fleet leaves. They don't want to wait. You also have to keep in mind the rotation I just mentioned. They might not like the general idea of the next Fleet and they might need to wait four more years, or even six, if they can get a place in the Fleet then. For people like that, the general idea of this Fleet is good enough since they will still get to travel between the stars, even if the Fleet settles on a planet after that."
"I find the number of people in a relationship surprisingly high," Tuvok noted. "To have fifty members of the crew be in such serious relationships only after a couple of months."
"There's a reason, Tuvok, but let me come back to that in a moment. First, to come back to the command thing, since the Urdian Fleet is going to 'tag along' with us, the decision is that Voyager will be the flagship of the armada. The flagship is the one, which sets the course. We will also decide what kinds of things we will pass by and which we will explore. This, of course, whilst keeping wishes from the other ships in mind. In this sense, I'll be in command. However, there are Captains on the other ships and they are in command of their individual ship. However, I'll be the one that points the way."
She gave a small chuckle. "Of course, they aren't under a contract or anything. It's possible they won't like where we point, or get tired of tagging along, and then decide to leave in another direction. But I, for one, would much rather have their Fleet decide to stay with us all the way."
"Liking the people or not aside, and the fact that it's nice to have more ships that can help," Tom said thoughtfully. "What kind of power are we talking about? I mean, I can see that those things out there are big ships. I know that the Urdians are vastly advanced compared to us but big and modern doesn't mean by definition strong."
"I'm not entirely sure myself," Kathryn admitted. "But from what I understand, one of their ships would pretty much rip a Sovereign class ship apart in less than a minute, even the upgraded Enterprise-E."
Tom let out a low whistle at that.
"Now, as Chakotay pointed out," Kathryn continued. "The Urdians basically make up this fleet. So there is also an Urdian Admiral traveling with us. This Admiral has the command over the entire Fleet. When she speaks, the other Captains will listen to her, not me. For most of the time, she will sit by and allow me do my thing. This brings me nicely to the point Tuvok brought up. People, there have been quite some developments on a relationship level. Tuvok rightfully pointed out the number of serious relationships is extremely high. Doctor?"
"Thank you, Captain. Yes, I have discussed this with the Urdians and we agree. These relationship are the result of the trace element removing limitations the crew placed on themselves. For years, the crew refrained from relationships because they thought they would be home soon or simply couldn't find the right person in the relatively limited group of the Voyager crew. Once on the planet, their choices were greater. They went to places they loved to go to, pursued interests like art and crafts, and found like-minded people there. From those same interests relationships grew. Add to that, as I said, the restrictions people placed on themselves were lifted. Let me take myself as a theoretical example. Let's say the trace element could influence me and for my entire existence. I had told myself that I would never get involved with another doctor. On the planet, this restriction would be lifted. I wouldn't have cared if the person I was interested in was a doctor."
He paused for a moment to look at a PADD in front of him, even though everyone knew that he didn't actually have to check information. He had done things like that from the beginning. The others just assumed that it was a behavior left over from the person his program was based on, his creator Dr. Lewis Zimmerman.
"Another factor is that the Urdians mate for life," the Doctor continued. "They go through life as singles, sharing carefree relationships. However, once they meet the person they feel 'that' attraction to, as they call it, they just go for it. It doesn't matter if family approves, the same social class, or anything like that. They firmly believe the feelings for each other is the most important thing. The rest can be worked out along the way. Some of them got 'that' feeling about Voyager crewmembers. Apparently, those crewmembers felt the same. Add all of that up and you got your high level of relationships."
"Thank you, Doctor," Kathryn said, taking back the conversation. "Now, let me inform you, with the exception of the Doctor and Tuvok, there isn't a single person at this table right now whose relationship hasn't changed."
Kathryn lifted a hand to stop the questions. "Since the crew knew that there was a chance they would lose the memories of the last four months, the entire crew recorded files for themselves. Files in which they spoke about things they felt they needed to remember again. Obviously, these are personal files and for private eyes only. Since there is the chance some people don't want to see the files they made themselves, for whatever reason, I have decided the crew will be 'reminded' individually. Then I'll have a conversation with them to inform them of things I think they have to know. Since you don't yet know any changes about you, let me talk about me for a moment. My relationship situation has changed as well. I'm actually married to Admiral Brika Danara, the Admiral that's in command of the Fleet."
"Surely you won't hold people to commitments they made while under the influence?" Tom asked disbelievingly.
"It's complicated, Tom," Kathryn said while trying to find a way to explain the problem. "The problem is, yes, people were under the influence of the element. However, both the Doctor and the Urdian doctors agree that the crew acted while being of sound mind. It's just that some personal restrictions were lifted. Things that would have made people shy away from the relationship, even though they really wanted to be in the relationship, no longer existed. To go with what the Doctor already explained, only now in my case, I had always told myself firmly that I would never, ever, get involved with a commanding officer. On the planet, this restriction didn't exist. I didn't care that Brika was an admiral. I cared about her. The Doctor and the Urdians agree, although the crew doesn't remember the last four months, they are bound to still have the same feelings for the people they formed these relationships."
Kathryn sighed. She was about to get more personal than she liked, but she felt it was needed to convince the senior crew of how their feelings were truly real. "I have to admit, I'm inclined to agree with them. I already met my wife. While I admit I didn't remember her in my mind, my body sure remembered her. I never felt so comfortable around someone in my life. Just having her in the same room makes me feel complete. After only minutes of meeting her anew, and actually less than one minute after sitting down beside her, my body reacted. I reached out, touched her, as lovers do. Somehow, I knew exactly how she liked to be touched. Rationally I had no idea why I did things like touching her lower arm instead of, for instance, patting her shoulder. It sounds strange, but believe me, you man not remember but your body knows. You'll find yourself reacting to your mate."
"To clarify that," The Doctor spoke up, "Your subconscious hasn't been affected. Things that didn't require rational thinking are still there and you might find yourself acting on it without knowing it. Taking my hypothetical example of me again, if I had entered into a relationship with another doctor, I might find myself trusting her when she says that all the instruments in sickbay are in order, even though... Mister Paris?"
Knowing only too well what the Doctor was getting at, Tom dutifully repeated what the Doctor had told him countless times while checking Tom's work. "Never take the word of another person for everything being alright. If they made a mistake, it's your mistake then and medical mistakes can kill very fast."
Kathryn agreed with a nod. "Thank you, Doctor, and Tom. Now, as pointed out, another problem is since the Urdians mate for life, their marriages are for life as well. Our crew married legally according to their customs and according to Federation laws I am bound to uphold those commitments. Now, seeing our rather unique circumstances the Urdian government has decided to make an exception of us. The entire Voyager crew gets one chance per married person to have their marriage nullified. However, there are also partners to consider, like in my case Admiral Brika Danara. These partners lived their life normally and bonded with a member of the crew knowing that this bond would be for life. Due to this, the government decided they would only allow to nullify a marriage if the partners live together first for an Urdian month, which is twenty-five of our standard days. They want people to try building their relationship before saying 'this won't work' and seeking to nullify the marriage. Tomorrow is day one of those twenty-five days."
Once more Kathryn lifted her hand to forestall the comments. "Again, I agree with them. I have to tell you, after meeting my wife, I already know now, after only a few hours that I personally won't be asking for a divorce. Yet, I also realize maybe I'm just lucky and that there will be people that first have to get to know each other again for a few weeks."
"So where does this leave us?" Harry asked. "What if these people go with us, where are they going if it's found out that they really can't live together and do want a divorce?"
"Well, good thing is, we aren't leaving yet," Kathryn said with a smile. "For the month we will be in orbit above the planet with the rest of the fleet. During that time, Voyager will be heavily modified. Keep in mind, the Fleet comprise of generational ships, twenty of them. If the couple decides they don't get along or aren't compatible, we can actually give them different jobs on different ships. Something we couldn't do on Voyager."
"Voyager is being modified? How heavily is heavily?" B'Elanna asked immediately.
"There is the obvious, like the weapons, shields, engines, and computer core," Kathryn started to explain. "But there is much more than that. Voyager will be completely upgraded to Urdian standards. As a result, we all have to move. It doesn't make sense to keep living in Voyager's cramped quarters when family sized quarters are merely a beaming away. The Voyager crew will move homes to one of the ships where a section of the ship is set aside especially for our partners and us. Voyager, itself, will be become a base of command. Most of what are living quarters now will be turned in to offices. While there are offices on the individual ships to take care of the business of that ship, traveling with a group of forty thousand people also brings situations that affect the entire Fleet and have to be taken care of centralized. Normally those centralized offices are located on the Flagship of the Fleet. Seeing that Voyager is going to be the Flagship, we need that room of former living quarters to house those offices."
"That's quite a commitment considering we aren't sure how long this Fleet will be with us," Neelix spoke up.
Kathryn nodded. "It is, but you have to keep in mind, a lot of it is cosmetic. For instance, the fact that our living quarters having been hanged to offices doesn't stop us from splitting off from the Fleet and continuing to the Alpha quadrant alone if needed. It only means that for a few nights people will have to sleep on outdoor inflatable beds. I'm more looking at what else we will change. For instance, we stay a month, but upgrade the engines. Even if it doesn't work out and we have to go alone, we make up the time eventually simply by being faster."
She saw several people nod their understanding. They knew the deal. They were smart enough to know just what an engine, weapon, or shield upgrade was worth. It was definitely worth changing living quarters into offices and then back later if ever needed. "As I was saying, all our living quarters will be turned into offices. Then there are the upgrades that we'll be implementing. For us, work wise it will all stay the same. Instead of walking to our work place, we will now beam to Voyager to start our workday on the bridge, or in engineering, or sickbay. It's all depending on where we normally work."
"I do not see the benefit in this," Seven spoke up. "Would it not be more efficient to discard Voyager and set up base on one of the other ships, preferably the one we will live on?"
B'Elanna snorted at the question. "Trust the Borg to dismiss Voyager so easily. I wonder if you would also dismiss us so,"
"That'll do, Lieutenant," Kathryn interrupted. "Seven asked a perfectly reasonable question. The Urdians are so much more advanced than us, that upgrading Voyager to their standards is the same as us upgrading an old-fashioned airplane into a spaceship. Practically, Seven is right. It would be easier if we just moved to the new ship completely. However, to answer your question Seven, the Urdians decided they are going to tag along with us. Let us do our thing. This will still be a Federation journey. They feel the lead ship, the one that sets the course, should be an official Federation ship. Not a lead ship built by them and operated by us. Although heavily modified, Voyager won't suddenly turn into an Urdian ship. Let us not forget, as long as we have Voyager, upgraded or not, it's always an option for the Urdians to say they want to leave us. That's not so easy if Voyager is gone and the only ship they might be able to offer us to continue our journey is one of their generational ships."
Seeing the answer was to the satisfaction of the senior crew, Kathryn continued. "Let's move on to setting up the game-plan. For now, I would like all of you to go to your stations and do a quick check. I'll be calling you into my ready room individually to provide your data crystal with the recordings you made for yourself and share with you what I think you need to know to help make your decision. After that, take your time to think about the information and to visit our new home. Tomorrow we will start to 'remind' the rest of the crew. When that time comes, I want the ones above them, you all, to portray confidence. Patiently answer questions and be there for your crew. The day after tomorrow the renovation of Voyager will start. Of course, we will start with the bridge and Engineering. This will give people a chance to go visit their old quarters for a last goodbye and check if they left something there when they moved to the planet. Our possessions on the planet have already been moved to the new quarters since we obviously can't go back to the planet. Once the renovations of the bridge have started, we..."
You wanted to see me, Captain?" B'Elanna asked as she walked into the ready room.
"Yes, please sit down."
As B'Elanna sank into the chair in front of the desk, she saw a data crystal lying prominently in view. She knew what this conversation would entail.
"Your turn," Kathryn agreed with a smile. "This is yours."
Kathryn waited until B'Elanna had taken the data crystal and put it in her pocket before continuing. "As I said before, the recordings on the data crystals are made by the crew themselves. The information in it is considered private and not scanned by anyone. This was to ensure the crew would feel comfortable to record even the most private of things for themselves. Of course, it's up to you whether you will actually watch the recordings."
"I won't," B'Elanna spoke up. "I mean, seeing that I made a recording, I must have thought it was a good idea at the time, but now? What if I look at those recordings and see things I don't remember anymore and want it back? I will go on missing things I don't even know..."
Going over her words in her mind, B'Elanna added, "Man, this is fucked up." Her eyes widened when her own words registered. "Captain, I,"
Kathryn waved a hand. "Don't worry about it, I will consider it an off-the-record remark. You are right. This is fucked up. I know. Believe me, I know." She paused, wondering how to approach the subject the best. "And I also can't blame you for not wanting to look at the file. I watched my recording and heard myself talking about how wonderful my wedding day was. Sure, there are holo-recordings of the day, but even when I watch those, I will never 'feel' that day. Having said that, B'Elanna, I can't tell you what to do here but I can suggest that you watch the recordings despite the fact that you might see something you don't want to remember. I,"
She sighed, knowing once again she was going to reveal something she didn't want to, but also knowing it might be the only way to get B'Elanna to look at her own recording. "What I'm going to tell you now will never leave this room, understood?"
"Yes ma'am," B'Elanna assured, wondering what Kathryn was going to tell her that warrant such a warning.
"I told you about my wedding, about seeing it but not remembering it. It hurts, yes, but the beauty is that a wedding day can be redone. New memories can be created. In fact, my wife and I are already planning a second wedding before we leave the planet's orbit. This time on the ship, that's going to be our home, since obviously I can't go back down to the planet. The thing is, all my wife's friends will come, the same priest that married us before will marry us again. See, B'Elanna, that's what the recording does for you as well. It takes away doubt. I know from the recording that I'm happy with my wife. I know it's alright to go on and have a private life even though I'm the Captain that normally has to distance herself from her crew. Why do I know that for sure? In the recording I said so myself. It is up to you whether you will really look at the recording, but I strongly suggest you do."
"I, I will think about it," B'Elanna said, more in an effort to have Kathryn stop talking about the damn recording than out of real curiosity. It was a simple thing really. B'Elanna never had a real home. The only real place she could call home was Voyager. The community made it home with friends, the good relationships with almost every single person on the ship, even though the strength of the relationships varied. Frankly, she was afraid. she was afraid to see a home in those recordings. To see that she finally had found a true home and that she was now leaving it behind. It was the thought of home that reminded her of something else.
"Um, Captain, at the meeting this morning you said that all our relationships changed. Please don't tell me I married Tom."
Kathryn's brow lifted at that. "I thought you and Tom got along just fine."
"That's the point. We do get along just fine. We're great friends but that's it."
Well, it really wasn't. There was the small detail that they were indeed friends, but they also had sex at least twice a week... at least in the time she could remember now. She saw no reason to tell Kathryn this detail.
The thing with Tom was just some fun. Both of them were single and both of them were horny on a regular basis. The deal had been simple and straight to the point. One night B'Elanna had been horny as hell and Tom happen to come by for a friendly visit. It hadn't taken long before Tom had been lying flat on his back, knife at this throat. B'Elanna told him clearly that if he ever told anyone anything he would die. Tom assured her he would never tell anyone anything, though at the moment he had no idea just what the hell she was talking about. That was until the knife disappeared and B'Elanna, who was still sitting on top of him, had started to open her blouse. His eyes had gone wide, but then his brain kicked in and he assured her once more, this time with a wanting grin, that he would never tell.
Though Tom liked to flirt and liked his name as a womanizer, he wasn't stupid. He knew that as long as he stayed silent two things would happen. First, the sex would become a reoccurring thing and he had been right. Second, if he showed B'Elanna that she could trust him then their friendship, besides the sex as a convenience, would only deepen. There too he had been right. For the six months before they made that fatal stop at the planet, they had shared some good sex, and became as close as friends could be without moving to the dangerous area of 'in love.' They loved each other but they sure weren't 'in' love with each other.
One night, after some of that good sex, they had talked about how they loved each other but weren't in love with each other. How sex normally only resulted in complications and 'friends with benefits' never lasted long. But in the end they both agreed they like the 'benefits' way too much to simply give it up because it might cause problems down the road. They agreed as much as they liked their time together, neither of them was into sharing, being the second person, or even the silent lover on the side. If ever the time came that one of them got interested in someone else, that would be the time to get rid of the 'with benefits' part of their friendship.
"Well, no, you didn't marry Tom," Kathryn said after a moment, wondering why B'Elanna had just zoned out. "As for your relationship status, it did indeed change. Since I needed Seven on the job for the moment I already talked to her,"
"What the hell does she have to do with anything?" B'Elanna interrupted. "With all due respect Captain, I don't give a damn that you already talked to her. So she told you about what happened in Engineering an hour ago, big deal. I'm more interested in what concerns me."
"B'Elanna," Kathryn said surprisingly calm. "Calm down. I'm actually trying to tell you about y..."
"No, you are talking about that bitch. Well I don't care, alright? I,"
"B'Elanna, shut up," Kathryn suddenly snapped. "And I would suggest a lot more respect when you talk about Seven from now on because that 'bitch' happens to be your wife."
B'Elanna's only reaction was to look at Kathryn with huge eyes and her mouth hanging wide open.
"B'Elanna?" Kathryn asked after a full minute of silence.
"No way," B'Elanna finally said.
"I assure you. This is very true."
"I want this undone."
Kathryn shook her head a little. "You were at the senior staff meeting so you know that nothing can be done for twenty-five days."
"No," B'Elanna disagreed. "That's for people that married an Urdian. She and I are Starfleet, that doesn't affect us."
Kathryn shook her head. "That's where you're wrong. First, technically Seven isn't Starfleet. Second, neither of you might be Urdian, but you did marry in an Urdian ceremony and under their law. That means I'm bound to keep to those laws and you, just like the other ones can't get a divorce for a month. B'Elanna, I'm not going to tell you what to do, and I certainly can't tell you what to feel, but I would suggest you think about it a little more. You willingly married Seven. There must be a reason. There was nobody standing beside you with a phaser. You said 'I do' willingly. Maybe there is more there than you like to admit."
"Captain, if that's all, I would like to get back to work now," B'Elanna spoke up in a tone that clearly indicated that as far as she was concerned, the conversation was over.
"Actually, no more work for you today," Kathryn said, knowing that she had pushed B'Elanna as far as she could without getting her defenses up. "B'Elanna, let me be clear. I expect you to put this aside tomorrow. Tomorrow the rest of the crew will have to face people they don't know, some of them will even meet people they married. As said in the meeting, the relationship status of fifty people changed. However, those are only the ones where things were clear. There are more people in the dangerous territory of the beginnings of a relationship. They were friends with someone and would like to be more, but now, do they still want that? People will be confused and not sure what to do. I expect my senior crew to be there for them, to listen and give unbiased suggestions. You know what that means?"
B'Elanna wanted to snarl but she also knew that because of the privacy of the matter, Kathryn had already let her get away with more than she normally would. She took a deep breath before saying, "It means that if someone asks me for a suggestion what to do I suggest that they try getting to know the person before making any real decisions."
She was quiet for a second before adding, "With all due respect Captain, before you say that I should listen to my own advice, it's different. I already know her. I have known her for over two years now."
"Her, name is Seven," Kathryn reminded coolly. She looked at B'Elanna for a moment before sighing. "You have the rest of the day off, but I expect you in Engineering tomorrow at beginning of your shift. The Urdians already added transporter locations to the transporter buffer. Your new quarters are on 'The Glory', deck 12, section 8, quarters 5. Transporter location 34 will get you to that deck. From there you can find the rest."
"That's quite an address there," B'Elanna noted. "A little different than only a section on a ship."
"All Urdian files are open to us. Feel free to access the blueprints of the ship. Their ships are amazing," Kathryn assured. "Also, feel free to explore the ship. If you still have things in your old quarters that you want to beam over, do it from The Glory. With their transporters you can get it all over in one beaming."
"Yes, Captain," B'Elanna assured.
"Alright, then one final thing," Kathryn took a communicator out of her desk drawer and handed it to B'Elanna. It looked exactly the same like the one she already had, but Kathryn quickly proved that idea wrong. "They look like our communicators, but they are of Urdian design. There is a little mark on the back there to keep the old and new communicators apart. Instead of only used on the ship presently on, they work on all the ships: using the computer of the ship you happen to be on to open a communication, the channel will be accessed for the entire Fleet. You don't have to request an open channel to any of the other ships or to access other ship information. All computers will be linked to one network. You'll be able to access all files, including your private files, on any of the ships."
B'Elanna's eyebrows lifted and Kathryn had to chuckle. "Don't worry, there are safeguards. Nobody but you will be able to access your files unless they use a Captain's or higher security clearance override. If the override occurs, then the access will automatically be reported to Admiral Danara. Do some exploring B'Elanna and a lot of thinking. Dismissed."
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