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
By H.W.


Chapter 12

Day eighteen. (noon.)

B'Elanna looked around Astrometrics a final time before looking at her be'nal. "You sure you want to give this up? All kinds of new toys to play with and you just hand it to the twins?"

"Jennifer and Megan deserve a chance to show their full capabilities," Seven pointed out. "Besides, those new toys, as you call them, are in the end nothing more than newer versions of what I already know. Astrometrics never was my choice; it was Kathryn making a smart decision and placing me where I could be the most good for Voyager. In fact, as you know, in the beginning 'Astrometrics' was nothing more than a single sensor console in a barely used lab. I merely helped in building the new Astrometrics lab with Harry because if I was the Astrometrics officer, then I also wanted to have a decent place to work in."

B'Elanna chuckled. "Yeah, before you decided to build a real Astrometrics lab, Astrometrics was a joke. Nothing more than a name to indicate a console so that people knew where they needed to go. I think that before you, Astrometrics was only ever staffed by crewmen... not counting someone of the Senior staff calling up info from the bridge of course. They didn't even put people with experience there like the twins or Celes. They were better used elsewhere."

Seven powered down the main screen; it would not be needed anymore until the final prelaunch check. "I like working in Engineering permanently a lot more. It is much more versatile. I will work on different things every day, especially because as second-in-command I am expected to fulfill more mundane tasks as well."

B'Elanna nodded. "Yeah, sorry Hon. We are busy now with the modifications, but once we are underway you will be doing the work that any of my other Engineers might have to do. You will only be called in if I need a more qualified set of hands that is capable of doing more than just hold a spanner for me. Or to take my place as commander if I'm on away missions without you. Well, unless you have no assigned task going on of course, then I might as well pick you to hold that spanner for me. But you'll be getting tasks from the assigned task rotation just like the other Engineers for the rest."

"I do not object," Seven assured. "As you just said yourself, I will be called in when you need qualified help. So I will be called in all the time when there is interesting work to do. It is just that when there is nothing interesting, now I at least still have work that I can do to keep me busy instead of having to analyze data scans from areas we already passed, just to keep busy. Be assured, I will not mind at all to be assigned the replacement of a circuit in the mess hall replicator."

"Glad to hear it." Then B'Elanna frowned. "Is that what you always did? Analyze stuff from areas we already passed just to keep busy? That explains why you were always looking at scans pretty much every time I saw you. Normally stuff like that is stored in computer files and analyzed back in Starfleet command."

"True, but Voyager is not in contact with Starfleet," Seven reminded. "After I joined Voyager I noticed that those data storage banks were getting quite full. Since I was being bored most of the time, I decided to go over that information to keep me busy. I do not think that anyone ever noticed that some of the information has been catalogued; not even Kathryn."

"Then maybe we have to point it out," B'Elanna noted. "You have a point; who knows how long it will be before we are in a position where we can transfer that data to Starfleet. Now, with the upgrades to Voyager we will have a lot more storage space, but still. We are talking not only Voyager; we are also talking twenty other ships. And all of these ships, including Voyager now, have scanners that put Voyager's old scanners to shame. Maybe it would be better if the Fleet sets up a centralized department for analyzing that kind of data. More so because if we ever make it back to Earth, that doesn't mean that the rest of the Fleet will also end its journey there. They might decide that they don't like it and move on."

"With twenty-one ships in total it would also be of more use to analyze that data," Seven pointed out. "Something interesting could be found and one of the ships could be sent to research it. Since it is a generational ship that can support itself it would not matter if it would take a month or longer for the ship to eventually catch up again."

"True," B'Elanna could only agree. "Plus there would be a lot more people to actually do the job. Voyager alone will now have a quite decent Astrometrics staff. Six full time people where before there was only one and some occasional helpers."

Seven switched off one of the consoles when it beeped to indicate that the final test had completed and no problems were found. "As I basically just said, before, if something interesting was found in those scans then Voyager had three options. One, go back, two, sent a shuttle, which means that Voyager had to slow down so that the shuttle would be able to catch up, or three, ignore it. But now one of the Urdian ships can be sent back. Every single one of them can hold their own. Even in a one on one fight with a Borg cube, they will have the upper hand. So it will not be that bad if the ship needs a full month to catch up with the fleet again."

B'Elanna leaned against the console Seven had just switched off and nodded her agreement. "We can make the suggestion to Kathryn and Brika later. I think that Kathryn will hand the decision to Brika anyway because it's more of a Fleet thing than a Voyager thing."

"Plus it will be easier for Kathryn," Seven added.

B'Elanna frowned. "What do you mean?"

"I mean that it will be easier for Kathryn if Brika is the one that decides which ship will be sent to investigate. Because if Kathryn had to decide, she would want to send Voyager every time, but she cannot."

B'Elanna nodded. "I see what you mean. They might have upgraded Voyager, but size still matters. Because the Urdian generational ships with their length of fifteen hundred meters are over four times as long as Voyager, and on top of that are built rather broad with their seven hundred meters width, they simply have a lot more room for weapons and shields generators. As you just said; a generational ship can actually take on a Borg Cube and win with relative ease, but even upgraded Voyager would still lose if we would have to fight until the destruction of one ship."

The Urdian ships are bigger and more powerful," Seven agreed. "A result of having a design that is suited for a big crew while still giving the people big quarters for comfortable living. However, that was not really what I was talking about. You have to remember that Voyager will be the course setter on this new journey. And while Kathryn can journey to places she would like to investigate that are relatively on our course, she cannot suddenly send the lead ship back to research something that the Fleet already passed. At least not if she wants to travel on a course to Earth."

Suddenly B'Elanna pushed away from the console as she fully understood what Seven meant. "You are right. If the lead ship would double back to investigate stuff, surely the other ships can do the same for things they think are interesting. Kathryn will have to delegate and get her own kicks by new stuff we come across on the way forward. You do of course realize that this will mean that there will be fewer away missions for us, right?"

Seven wasn't so sure about that. "I do not think that Kathryn will give all away missions out of her hands. She will still want to be the person that talks to a new species, or that beams down to a planet first. And she will still rely on her senior crew then; in other words, on us. At worst she will start to take more people with her now that she has a bigger crew. More security, more specialized scientists to deal with certain situation. But I am certain that you and I will still be on almost every away mission with her. Simply because we are so versatile. Like a lot of people, we have an answer to almost everything, but unlike most people, what we say is probably correct or close to correct."

B'Elanna chuckled. "Oh, I don't doubt that we will still go to first contacts and all that. But I was more talking about those away missions where a few people would go out in a shuttle to harvest resources. Sometimes those were the most fun. A week or so with nothing to do but monitor the computer do its thing and read up on stuff."

"Ah, those," Seven said, not at all impressed. "I found those away missions the most boring. I prefer the away missions where you do not know what you will find. Will the people turn out hostile, will we find a place where Voyager can land... not that Voyager will land that much from now on."

"Yeah, even though Voyager can land, she will stay with the Fleet. Shuttles or beaming will be used to go to a planet," B'Elanna agreed. "Voyager will only be landed on those rare occasions where transporters don't work and it's too dangerous for the shuttles. Basically, in those cases Voyager will be used as a big shuttle."

"Another facet of her new life as part of the Fleet," Seven pointed out. "Not all the work will be glamorous. Voyager will be the lead ship, but sometimes she will have to function as a taxi service."

B'Elanna sighed. "True. "Maybe," She looked to the side when she heard the door open. "Kahless," She whispered when she saw what walked in.

The Urdian was huge. So tall that he had to duck his head a little to walk through the door. Which made B'Elanna guess that he had to be two meters tall at least. And on top of that he had a huge bulk, which was clear to see because he was walking around shirtless. Though there was a thin lair of fat, you could clearly see big muscles move under that skin. And if that wasn't intimidating enough, his entire body, or at least all that she could see, was covered in tattoos; including hands, face, and even his bald head.

"We are looking for B'Elanna Torres. The Computer said that he was here," The Urdian said with a deep and rumbling voice.

"Um, whatever it is, I didn't do it," B'Elanna joked.

"You are B'Elanna Torres?" the mountain of muscles asked. Then he turned and looked behind him. "Hey short stuff, look, it's a woman."

"Really?" A voice said, and B'Elanna saw a young diminutive looking Urdian woman walking around the big man.

She had tattoos as well, but nowhere near as many as the man. There was a tribal tattoo that started above her right eye. The top of which was in size and location pretty much the same as Seven's ocular implant, just that it was above the other eye. Just like Seven's implant, the tattoo curved around the eye, but unlike the implant it then swirled down over the cheek. There it formed an intricate pattern of swirls, before moving lower over the throat there it dipped into the woman's shirt to let you wonder just where it would flow next. But despite the area that the tattoo covered, it was made up out of delicate and thin lines that didn't obscure too much of the face. It looked quite elegant and beautiful actually, B'Elanna decided.

There was also a tribal band around each arm, and from the wrists tribal patterns that reminded B'Elanna a lot of black flames licked halfway up the woman's underarms.

The woman was not new to the scrutiny and took it in stride. Though highly respected on their Homeworld, their people were a minority. So she was used to people taking a moment to look when they saw her for the first time. Having tattoos was a quite common body decoration on her world, but nobody would ever dare to tattoo their face unless their place in society had earned them that right. In fact, they weren't allowed to by law otherwise. And the tattoo pattern she had opened doors, would protect her in conflicts, made people listen, and made sure that she was treated with the utmost respect. Even people that were not of her own people would recognize the pattern that was used on signs all over the world.

"Cool," The woman said with a smile. "Sorry, we were expecting a man. That's why I had my brother walk in first. He is so impressive and people are more eager to talk to me once they see me then and realize that they have a choice as to who to talk to."

"Yeah," The man rumbled. "They never realize just who is the more dangerous of us. I can only beat them into a pulp, but she... she can talk."

"Allow me to introduce ourselves," The woman said. "I am Kinal, healer of the Red Hand Clan."

She touched her cheek as if it the gesture gave more meaning to the words. B'Elanna didn't know yet that it was not the gesture, but the pattern on her cheek, that proved her words true.

"And this is my brother Olik, First warrior of the Red Hand Clan. We heard that you are setting up a new Clan?"

"House," B'Elanna corrected. "I am B'Elanna Torres, Lord of the House of BortaS. And this is my be'nal, Lady Seven. Lady of the House of BortaS."

Seven and B'Elanna were surprised when at the same time both Kinal and Olik kneeled on their left knee, raised a fist to their heart, which was on the opposite side of where Humans had the heart, and lowered their heads a little.

"Forgive us," Kinal said, head still lowered. "We didn't realize that we were in the presence of a Clan Matron."

Seven took a step forward. "Please rise."

Once the two Urdians were standing again, Seven continued. "As my be'nal said, we do not have a Clan, we have a House. We would appreciate if you would refer to it as such. Is it normal behavior to bow for the... Matron of a Clan, even if she is not of your Clan?"

"It is," Olik assured.

"Also on starships?" Seven persisted. She could see from the hesitation to that question that this was something they couldn't really answer. "The thing is, on a starship work cannot be halted merely because a certain person walks by. However, I know how important traditions are to you. So how about we compromise by you from now on merely bowing your head for a moment?"

"We will spread the word, Lady Seven," Kinal assured.

"Now, how can I help you?" B'Elanna asked.

"Ah, well, we were more hoping that we could help you," Kinal said. "We are here to plead our case for joining your Clan, I mean House."

"Do you even know that it entails?" B'Elanna asked after a moment of stunned surprise.

"We have read the information on the PADD that your recruiter handed us. We also checked Voyager's databanks to see if information was left out; recruiters do have a tendency to not tell all details. We were surprised that the document your recruiter handed us was actually a very accurate representation of what the traditions of your people are."

Kinal hesitated for a moment and corrected herself. "What the traditions of Klingons are. We realize that there are several different species on Voyager and therefore several different ways of living."

B'Elanna stepped closer to the diminutive woman, and she couldn't help but glance up at the man that was towering over her. "What recruiter? And, um, you two are really related?"

"She is my adoptive sister," Olik explained.

B'Elanna looked from the man back to the woman, and then back again. As Engineer she had an eye for detail, and now she picked up that with both of them a part of the Tattoo area above the eye looked exactly the same.

"A small girl, that has an extremely gentle disposition on top of it... she was harassed a lot as a child. So I made her my adoptive sister ten years ago," The man explained.

B'Elanna chuckled. "Let me guess, the harassing stopped?"

"Over night," Kinal agreed. She hooked her arm through the arm of her brother. "Don't let his size bother you. He is a real sweetie, as long as you are not on his bad side."

"A recruiter?" Seven prompted.

"Ah, right. A Human man. Blonde hair, disarming smile, married to one of ours; expecting a child."

"Tom," B'Elanna growled. "I'll kill him."

"Why, is he not doing his job right?" Kinal asked.

"It's not his job to start with," B'Elanna replied annoyed. "We freaking invited him to join our House, not recruit for it. Look, yes we are starting our own House. But we were kinda expecting that it would only be a few close friends and their spouses. We most definitely weren't expecting Tom to go around and recruit people."

"Brika did point out that some of the Mountain Tribes Clans would approach us once they heard that we are forming a House," Seven reminded. "Something of a third option? Instead of having to fight about which Clan will be the last to survive and take in the other Clans, they would all start off on equal footing."

"Right," Kinal agreed. "Though we wouldn't really call it a third choice; more of a first choice. It's..." she hesitated and looked up at her brother.

"We have traditions," Olik explained. "We like our separate Clans but it's not like we truly hate the others. Sure we fight, but that's more in fun than anything else; a sport really. Take Kinal. She is the healer of our Clan, but half of the time she was off to other Clans to help there because they needed a healer and we were closer than their own healers. We were preparing to leave our planet for months before you showed up, so a lot of healers were off in the cities to brush up on their knowledge because Kinal, the best healer around, had already indicated that she wanted to leave. So she was all over the place helping people that aren't of our Clan. You see, every Clan has its own traditions, but we are still all Mountain Tribe people. But here on the ships we are with too few Clan members per Clan to keep all Clans alive. We have to unite. We would much rather unite as equals in a new Clan than seeing others have to give up their traditions in favor of ours."

"So you much rather give up your own traditions as well?" Seven asked confused. "And you assume that the others would join your Clan?"

"Yes in both cases," Kinal assured. "Giving up traditions is hard, but we knew that we would have to do it. Even the one Clan that survives has to give up a lot of traditions. We would much rather start off fresh and on equal footing. Normally we couldn't do that because someone has to be the leader of the Clan, and because of that we would have to fight to see which one will be that Clan that survives. But you... you are new. You have already a command in place; you two. If we could join your... House you said? Then all the Clans would be equal in this new House. And as for knowing that we would be the surviving Clan?"

Kinal stopped for a moment to very pointedly look up at her brother. "The highest ranking Warriors on the ships of the Clans normally face off to see who wins if it's a fight to unite the Clans. It's not often that a First Warrior decides to leave with a Fleet and can be found on a ship. First warrior, other warriors? Enough said."

B'Elanna sighed, giving in. She looked at Seven to see if the Lady had an objection. She saw her lover gave a small nod. "Alright. In that case we welcome you to the House. Of course, there is a ritual that you need to fulfill once we have actually created the House. And that is assuming that you know the conditions that can result in you being expelled from the House."

"We know," Kinal assured. "On both cases. Disgrace the House, or show disrespect to the foremost of the House, that are the two biggest reasons for being expelled, or worse. And we have to spill our blood in an oath of loyalty to the House."

"Yeah, Klingons, they like to seal things with blood," B'Elanna agreed.

"As do Clans," Kinal assured with a tolerant smile. "We are not new to it."

"Um, you do realize that we fully expect our House members to do their jobs on the ships, right?" B'Elanna asked. "Your orders will come from your superior officers, ships are under the command of a Captain. The House is part of these ships, but not in control of them."

"Of course," Kinal assured. "We knew that our Clans would come second place to the Fleet once we signed up. It is a condition for Mountain Tribe members being allowed to join."

"Alright, just checking."

"You said that you read the data on Klingon Houses?" Seven asked. "Then you must also know that inside a House there are certain key positions. The bigger the House is, the more key positions there are so that the Lord and Lady do not have to take care of every small detail. Since you came to us, would you have certain of these positions in mind that you think you would be suited for?"

"We have," Kinal agreed. "I myself would be honored if I could become the House physician."

"I don't know," B'Elanna spoke up. "Seeing that you were asked by the other Clans for help you must be a pretty good doctor. But a friend of ours is a doctor as well, and we already asked him to join the House."

"But he did not accept yet," Seven pointed out.

"Yeah, but only because he had to check a few things to see if joining wouldn't strife with his professional convictions," B'Elanna pointed out in turn. "If we now give that position to someone else it would seem like we passed him by because we were pissed that he didn't say yes right away, while I actually appreciate that he didn't say yes blindly."

"True," Seven had to agree. Then an idea came to her. "Kinal, what kind of doctor are you exactly? The kind that checks to see why someone has a fever, or the kind that also conducts surgery?"

"I do small procedures that could be called surgery, but don't really require an operation room. And of course if I'm the only choice and I have to save a life, which has happened more than once," Kinal pointed out. "But other than that I'm more the headache, broken bones, childbirth, kind of doctor. I know how to hold a scalpel if needed, but I always preferred the closer interaction with patients that being a regular doctor allowed for."

Seven looked at her lover. "Something the Doctor does not like. The Doctor is bound to become the head surgeon of the Fleet simply because learning all of the Urdian physique is nothing more than updating his parameters. He will never be too tired to operate, and he has hands so still that he can wield a nano scalpel without the aid of robotic devices. If he wants to join our House we can offer him the position of House surgeon. He will see it as a more important position and I doubt that he would be offended by the fact that the House also has a House physician."

"Oh, I like the way you think," B'Elanna agreed with a grin. Then she looked at the big man beside her. "And what about you big guy?"

"I am the First Warrior of my Clan, if I read the files right, a Klingon house has a similar position. You call it Marine Commander?"

"Marines are a part of the Klingon army," B'Elanna explained. "But only Houses with more than two hundred members start with having their own marines. So we are way too small for that."

Olik and Kinal looked at each other in confusions for a moment. Then a light went on with Kinal. "Oh, duh. Sorry for not being clear with that. We aren't just here for the two of us. We had a meeting and we were selected as spokes persons."

"Selected by who, what meeting?" B'Elanna asked. Now she was the one confused.

"We had a general Clan meeting. That's when several Clans get together and talk over things that affect more than one Clan. The more conservative Clans want to wait a little longer to see how this plays out, see if your actions as an existing House will reflect enough of Clan tradition for them to join as well. At the moment we are here as the spokes persons for our own Clan, the Red Hand Clan. But we also represent the Falling Rocks Clan, the Closed Fist Clan, the Flowing River Clan, the Racing Horse Clan, the Melting Snow Clan, and the Mad Dog Clan."

B'Elanna didn't know what to do when more and more Clans were mentioned. Then the last name registered and she laughed. "Mad Dog Clan?"

Kinal shrugged. "The Names of our Clans have a rich and colorful history."

"Is that a way of saying that nobody knows where the name comes from?" B'Elanna asked.

Kinal shook her head. "No, rich history is only rich if remembered. It's more the colorful part. The short version is, once there was a proud warrior who was bitten by the mad dog of a rival. Of course, from that time his nickname was 'mad dog'. Eventually he went on to create his own Clan and proudly called it the Mad Dog Clan."

"So, including your own Clan, you represent seven Clans?" Seven asked. "How many people are we talking about?"

"A little over two hundred," Kinal said. "The more conservative clans have fewer people in the Fleet because fewer of them were willing to leave their home behind. They are ten more Clans and have one hundred people in total."

B'Elanna rubbed her forehead as she groaned. Then she looked at Seven. "My Lady, I think it's safe to say that this has now well exceeded anything we ever thought off."

Seven nodded. "Kinal, we did not know that you were speaking for so many people. We agreed that the two of you can join us, we stand by that. But we want to talk with the other Clan leaders before we agree to the others joining as well. We have clear rules that we want them to abide to. We want to set up a House, but not rival the command structure of the Fleet."

"I could set up a meeting for tomorrow," Kinal offered. "Um, what about my brother's preferred position in the House?"

"Well, that first of all depends on how many people our House will end up having," B'Elanna pointed out. "Olik, you said that you are the First Warrior. No disrespect meant, but I have to ask. Are you the First Warrior because you are big enough to beat everyone else into a pulp, or because you are smart enough to give good orders?"

Olik grinned, clearly not offended. "I'm the First Warrior because I am big enough to beat others into a pulp, am capable enough to give everyday orders, and am smart enough to listen to the council of the warrior elders in situations that are not every day."

B'Elanna couldn't help but grin as well. "A good mix. Alright, you are welcome as a member of the House, and if the house grows to a size where we have Marines, then you will become the Marine Commander."

She hesitated, but figured that it was best to be honest with him. "Have you also read in those files that Marine Commanders can be replaced if they don't live up to expectation? No reason is needed. As far as I know this is done so that Commanders don't get too comfy. They need to be good and impress on an ongoing basis, and not just during some planned test."

"I know," Olik assured. "But on the plus side, it's that very reason that you can give me the position without me first having to prove just how good I am."

B'Elanna grinned. "Well, there is that." She let her eyes drift over his body. "Um, do you have a uniform you actually fit into?"

Olik laughed. "Yeah I do. But since I'm not yet an official Fleet member I wear this; the normal warrior clothing, minus the body covering armor of course. We only wear that in battles and training. Well, I normally wear the shirt too of course, but I walked in here to impress, so I left that one in my room."

"You are not yet part of the Fleet?" Seven asked surprised.

Kinal shook her head. "It's tradition. Mountain Tribe Clan members are not supposed to work for anyone but the Clan. As I said, I helped other Clans, so as you can see, this is far from how it was in far gone history. Now we just have to find a reason that covers objections. Like the fact that by helping the other Clans, I keep them strong and therefore they can trade with our Clan, so I'm actually working for my own Clan. Same here. I will leave with the Fleet and join them, so I am working for my Clan by promoting the Clan on our journey through the universe. But to show our loyalty to the Clan we will only join the Fleet officially on the last possible moment. One day before we leave. But rest assured, even though we respect tradition, we are part of this Fleet, just that we aren't walking around in uniform yet."

"Alright," B'Elanna said. "We were just about to go have lunch. Want to join us so that we can talk a little more?"

The siblings were glad to accept.

They had made two steps in the direction of the door when it opened and the Delaney sisters entered. "Hey Seven, B'Elanna. Just the people we are looking for," Megan greeted. "What's this we hear about you setting up a Klingon House? People can join Houses without being family of you, right?"

B'Elanna let out a string of curses that ended with a frustrated, "I am so going to kill Tom."

"Jennifer, Megan," Seven spoke up. "We were just going for lunch. Would you care to join us?"

"Sure," Megan said as the door opened once more and Tal Celes entered.

"Oh, you are busy, I um, I'll..." Tal turned around to leave, only to feel a hand grab her shoulder.

B'Elanna stopped the Bajoran from leaving before looking at Seven and only stating, "I have a feeling that it's going to be a big table at lunch."

And then lunch promised to become a lot more interesting when they saw the giant Olik walk over to Celes and treat her to a quick kiss.

"Um, maybe it's time we caught up on some stuff anyway," B'Elanna noted before asking sweetly, "So, Celes what have you been up to lately?"

Part 13

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